Science shows how Wasps fans can give their team the edge in the Play-Offs

Date: 17 May 2018

With Wasps’ season resting on the result of this Saturday’s semi-final against Saracens, Wasps’ energy partner npower has enlisted the expertise of Professor Greg Whyte OBE, the country’s leading authority on sport and exercise science, to share tips on how fans can help power the black-and-golds to victory at Allianz Park.

During a three-match experiment, npower has monitored the heart-rates of 50 Wasps fans alongside noise levels within the Ricoh Arena. By correlating the data with match action, they have been able to provide a unique insight into the link between fan ‘energy’ and player performance.  

From resting heart-rates in the low 70s, individual heart rates occasionally peaked beyond 140 beats-per-minute at exciting moments in the match, while the collective average heart rate for the Wasps’ group spiked at 94 beats-per-minute. This is the equivalent of going for a run, despite sitting in the stands.

Noise levels in the Ricoh Arena also soared to 121 dBA (decibels suited to the human ear) – similar to being in the front row at a rock concert.

In each game, the ‘npower high-energy point of the match’ was determined – the point at which fan energy and player energy combined to maximum effect to produce the most powerful force for the club.

Former Olympian, Professor Greg Whyte, is well-versed in teaching athletes and celebritites how to channel their energy, having helped stars such as David Walliams and Zoe Ball to conquer significant challenges for Sport Relief. In this ‘Super Powers’ experiment, he has researched the impact of energy on a wider scale, by exploring how fans can help fuel their team’s performance.

“Whether it’s driven by anxiety or driven by excitement, the ‘Super Powers’ experiment has demonstrated that ‘fan power’ has a significant influence on player performance and can play an influential role in the outcome of a tight game.

“If we can monitor when fans have the greatest impact on performance, we can inform and educate fans to intervene with this “high energy point” at the right moments in the game when a team needs it most. It’s all about improving the environment for players on the pitch to optimize their performance.

“From looking at the data, in general the crowd is relatively passive, reacting to moments in the match. However, there are key points when they do become more pro-active, really getting behind the team ahead of a play and influencing what’s happening on the field. It’s moments like these that they will need to re-create on Saturday.

“Against London Irish, for example, fan energy (heart rates and sound levels) reached a crescendo as Tom Cruse charged down an attempted clearance and stormed to the try line to seal the win for Wasps.

“A similar example of fan and player energy combining was witnessed during Wasps’ most recent game at the Ricoh Arena, when the home side were defending their try-line from a final Northampton Saints assault, desperately trying to hold on for the win that would secure a play-off spot.

“Joe Simpson realised the significance of the moment and urged home fans to be even louder in their support. The Wasps’ faithful responded with gusto, rising to their feet and roaring their team on to create extra energy for the players to feed off. The result was a match-winning turnover from Guy Thompson, who saluted the crowd while skipper Joe Launchbury punched the air and acknowledged the fans’ contribution towards driving them to victory and the play-offs.”

Now the challenge for Wasps’ fans is to re-create this surge of energy away from home, at Allianz Park on Saturday. Professor Whyte has this advice for travelling fans: 

“Anecdotally, home advantage, created by a larger number of home fans, is believed to provide the equivalent of a five-point lead. Wasps’ fans now have the challenge of trying to create the same amount of energy, but in fewer numbers. I’m sure it’s a challenge they can rise to.

“My advice to Wasps’ fans this weekend is to create a home environment. You do that by coming together as a fan base. Be proactive, create that energy, create that noise, because in doing that you can affect the play on the pitch.

“I think for me it’s about finding the ringleaders within the fan base, those people who are prepared to start the noise and that then spreads across the fans in the ground, creating a crescendo. That noise in turn affects the players on the pitch.”

Wasps’ number 9, Dan Robson is hoping for a repeat of the energising support the squad received ahead of the away European semi-final a couple of years ago.

“Wasps supporters are always brilliant home or away,” said Robson, “but the welcome we received when we arrived at the Madejksi Stadium that day will live long in the memory. It gave us such a buzz and I’m sure in part helped us score the early try just over a minute into the game.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite maintain levels to win that day, but we will never forget the support we received. For some of us, it was our first Champions Cup semi-final experience and that level of support gave us a massive boost. Hopefully we will be able to put lessons learned that day to good use this weekend and it would be great to hear Wasps’ fans as loud as they can be on Saturday.”

The Super Powers Experiment was organised courtesy of Wasps Energy, powered by npower who has launched a great value energy deal for Wasps fans with an exclusive club rucksack for any fan who activates the new tariff

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