Football performance impaired by mental fatigue
Professional footballers and their coaches often complain about the mental fatigue induced by the stress of frequent matches.
Now research from the University of Kent has demonstrated for the first time that mental fatigue can have a negative impact on football performance by reducing running, passing, and shooting ability.
Professor Samuele Marcora of Kent's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences worked with researchers from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and Ghent University in Belgium on the study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise.
This research consisted of two separate studies. In both studies, mental fatigue was induced experimentally by asking footballers to perform a mentally demanding computerised task for 30 minutes. In study 1, the physical performance of 12 footballers was assessed by measuring how far they run in a shuttle running test. In study 2, the technical performance of 14 footballers was measured using validated passing and shooting tests.
Footballers in study 1 perceived running to be harder when mentally fatigued despite similar heart rate, and ran significantly less compared to the control condition (no mental fatigue). In study 2, footballers made significantly more passing mistakes in the mental fatigue condition. Mental fatigue also impaired shot speed and shot accuracy.
The authors concluded that strategies to minimize mental fatigue should be developed and implemented in order to optimize the performance of football players during stressful competitions like EURO 2016.
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Notes to editors
Established in 1965, the University of Kent – the UK's European university – now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: third for overall student satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey; 23rd in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.
The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.
In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.