Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


What is a game face? How Indian athletes aced at it ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Watch out for the game faces of Indian sports star having the power to change the course of an athlete's performance

Indian badminton star PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu


Kalptaru Agarwal

Updated: 20 July 2021 2:25 PM GMT

Game face. What is Game Face? You must be thinking what a weird thing to talk about somebody's face while playing a game. Well, it's a bit more complex than that. A game face is typically an expression displayed by a sportsperson. But what is the need to put on a game face? They have their talent and skills to play with.

The theory behind the Game face is much more than you think it is, and there tends to be a performance changer when you put on a game face. So let's dive deep into the psychology of game face and how it has helped top athletes to perform their best.

The Game Face Theory

All athletes need to be mentally prepared for their game equivalent to their physical training. The focus and determination mindset is clearly evident in your facial expression. Michael Phelps's game faces at the Rio Olympics 2016 before the semi-final of the 200m butterfly race is an eye-opener for those who don't believe in game face theory.

Michael Phelps game face before the start of the semi-final race (Source: The Independent)

This particular expression actually contributes to the winning performance of athletes. But is it scientifically possible and proven, or is it just a hypothesis? Well, it is a proven fact.

When any sports person visualizes their goal and psychs themselves up, they enhance their ability to peak. That intense facial expression activates the limbic system in the athlete's brain, and the fight-or-flight instinct is switched on. As a result, the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream stimulates the muscles in the body and finally boosts performance.

This also helps them to focus their energy on the task. A lion's roar, an intense look, or a grunt, the process could be different for different athletes, but the resultant activity is the same.

Novak Djokovic Game Face to boost himself (Source: Today 24 English)

Brazilian soccer player Jessica Quintino game face (Source: Global News)

Look at how Novak roars or Brazilian soccer player Jessica gives a sharp look or the Hungarian water polo player's Viktor Nagy growls; all the athletes' game faces have helped them focus and accelerate their performance.

Game face of Viktor Nagy- Hungarian water polo player (Source: Gobal News)

Are there any other benefits of game face?

As Matthew Richesin, who studied the game face, said, "Game face may not only improve the performance in cognitive tasks, but it could also lead to better recovery from stress." But sports counselor Joseph Janesz has a contrasting viewpoint where he feels that

"Activating the limbic system for a big presentation or to deal with a difficult person may create more arousal and anxiety that could impede performance or provoke more confortration."

He has a way out of it that activates the prefrontal cortex to deal with such situations by finding time to play, getting adequate sleep, and moving your body through physical activity.

What are some of the Indian athletes 'game' faces?

By this time, you might be thoroughly excited to watch the Indian athlete's game faces and wish to practice and utilize this face more often at the Tokyo Olympics. We have to wait and watch their proud faces at these Olympics but have a look at some of the game face of Indian sports stars competing at the Tokyo Olympics:

The keen observor game face of PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu (Source: Deccan Chronicle)

PV Sindhu, India's medal hope in women's badminton at the Tokyo Olympics, has a sharp, keen game face which she carries at every game. The focus and dedication as visible from her face reflect her mental attitude towards the game. With the same quality discipline, she is a contender to grab the top position in the event.

The high spirited game face of Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra (Source: Business Standard)

The star javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra, one of the medal contenders, has an ambitious look on his face reflecting his high energy and power-packed attitude. His game face is something we will wait for, other than his performance at the Olympics.

The disciplined game face of Deepika Kumari

Deepika Kumari (Source: World Archery)

Deepika Kumari, currently ranked World No. 1, is the brightest medal prospect for India, and her disciplined game face makes her chance even stronger. The look to hit a bull's eye is evident from her facial expression, which helps her maintain her cool in tough situations.

The brave game face of Bajrang Punia

Bajrang Punia (Source: United World Wrestling)

With a fist high in the air and an expression to stun his opponent is the quality of this star wrestler, Bajrang Punia. Another hope from India in the sport of wrestling, his game speaks of bravery and confidence as wrestling is not just about strength but a mental game, Bajranj seems to play it well.

The lip closed game face of Sumit Nagal

Sumit Nagal (Source: The Indian Express)

Sumit Nagal is very happy about playing his debut Olympic this year with a late entry into the Olympic team. This lip-closed game face is observed when he takes his shots, giving him the power to hit it strongly. We hope his game face helps him succeed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

All the game faces are purely based on observations, but these game faces add a lot of confidence to the players. With only a few days now for the games to begin, let's see who makes the highlight for an iconic game face this time.

Next Story