Mental Fatigue and Soccer: Current Knowledge and Future Directions

  • Mitchell R. Smith
  • Chris Thompson
  • Samuele M. Marcora
  • Sabrina Skorski
  • Tim Meyer
  • Aaron J. Coutts
Leading Article

Abstract

Fatigue is a complex state with multiple physiological and psychological origins. However, fatigue in soccer has traditionally been investigated from a physiological perspective, with little emphasis on the cognitive demands of competition. These cognitive demands may induce mental fatigue, which could contribute to the fatigue-related performance decrements observed during and after soccer matches. Recent research investigating the relationship between mental fatigue and soccer-specific performance supports this suggestion. This leading article provides an overview of the research in this emerging field, outlining the impact of mental fatigue on soccer-specific physical, technical, decision-making, and tactical performances. The second half of this review provides directions for future research in response to the limitations of the existing research. Emphasis is placed on translating the current body of knowledge into practical applications and developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms underpinning the negative impact of mental fatigue on soccer performance. A conceptual model is presented to help direct this future research.

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

Mitchell R. Smith, Chris Thompson, Samuele M. Marcora, Sabrina Skorski, Tim Meyer and Aaron J. Coutts have no conflicts of interest.

Funding

No funding was provided for completion of this manuscript.

References

  1. 1.
    Mohr M, Krustrup P, Bangsbo J. Fatigue in soccer: a brief review. J Sports Sci. 2005;23(6):593–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carling C, Dupont G. Are declines in physical performance associated with a reduction in skill-related performance during professional soccer match-play? J Sports Sci. 2011;29(1):63–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mohr M, Krustrup P, Bangsbo J. Match performance of high-standard soccer players with special reference to development of fatigue. J Sports Sci. 2003;21(7):519–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rampinini E, Coutts AJ, Castagna C, Sassi R, Impellizzeri FM. Variation in top level soccer match performance. Int J Sports Med. 2007;28(12):1018–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Rampinini E, Impellizzeri FM, Castagna C, Azzalin A, Bravo DF, Wisloff U. Effect of match-related fatigue on short-passing ability in young soccer players. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(5):934–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Walsh V. Is sport the brain’s biggest challenge? Curr Biol. 2014;24(18):R859–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nédélec M, McCall A, Carling C, Legall F, Berthoin S, Dupont G. Recovery in soccer: part I-Post-match fatigue and time course of recovery. Sports Med. 2012;42(12):997–1015.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Coutts AJ. Fatigue in football: it’s not a brainless task! J Sports Sci. 2016;34(14):1296.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Boksem MAS, Meijman TF, Lorist MM. Effects of mental fatigue on attention: an ERP study. Cogn Brain Res. 2005;25(1):107–16.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.04.011.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lorist M, Boksem MAS, Ridderinkhof KR. Impaired cognitive control and reduced cingulate activity during mental fatigue. Cogn Brain Res. 2005;24(2):199–205.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.01.018.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Van Cutsem J, Marcora S, De Pauw K, Bailey S, Meeusen R, Roelands B. The effects of mental fatigue on physical performance: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2017;47(8):1569–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Boksem MAS, Meijman TF, Lorist MM. Mental fatigue, motivation and action monitoring. Biol Psychol. 2006;72(2):123–32.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.08.007.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Duncan MJ, Fowler N, George O, Joyce S, Hankey J. Mental fatigue negatively influences manual dexterity and anticipation timing but not repeated high-intensity exercise performance in trained adults. Res Sports Med. 2015;23(1):1–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lal SKL, Craig A. A critical review of the psychophysiology of driver fatigue. Biol Psychol. 2001;55(3):173–94.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-0511(00)00085-5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lorist M, Klein M, Nieuwenhuis S, Jong R, Mulder G, Meijman TF. Mental fatigue and task control: planning and preparation. Psychophysiology. 2000;37(5):614–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Badin OO, Smith MR, Conte D, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue impairs technical performance in small-sided soccer games. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11(8):1100–5.  https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0710.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Coutinho D, Gonçalves B, Travassos B, Wong DP, Coutts AJ, Sampaio JE. Mental fatigue and spatial references impair soccer players’ physical and tactical performances. Front Psychol. 2017.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01645.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Smith MR, Coutts AJ, Merlini M, Deprez D, Lenoir M, Marcora SM. Mental fatigue impairs soccer-specific physical and technical performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(2):267–76.  https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000762.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Smith MR, Zeuwts L, Lenoir M, Hens N, De Jong LMS, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue impairs soccer-specific decision-making skill. J Sports Sci. 2016;34(14):1297–1304.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1156241.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Smith MR, Fransen J, Deprez D, Lenoir M, Coutts AJ. Impact of mental fatigue on speed and accuracy components of soccer-specific skills. Sci Med Footb. 2017;1(1):48–52.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1252850.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Paul DJ, Bradley PS, Nassis GP. Factors affecting match running performance of elite soccer players: shedding some light on the complexity. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(4):516–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Smith MR, Marcora SM, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue impairs intermittent running performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47(8):1682–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Castagna C, Impellizzeri F, Cecchini E, Rampinini E, Alvarez JCB. Effects of intermittent-endurance fitness on match performance in young male soccer players. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(7):1954–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Brownsberger J, Edwards A, Crowther R, Cottrell D. Impact of mental fatigue on self-paced exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2013;34(12):1029–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Marcora SM, Staiano W, Manning V. Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009;106(3):857–64.  https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.91324.2008.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Coutinho D, Gonçalves B, Wong DP, Travassos B, Coutts AJ, Sampaio J. Exploring the effects of mental and muscular fatigue in soccer players’ performance. Hum Mov Sci. 2018;58(1):287–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hill-Haas SV, Dawson B, Impellizzeri FM, Coutts AJ. Physiology of small-sided games training in football. Sports Med. 2011;41(3):199–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Rampinini E, Impellizzeri FM, Castagna C, Coutts AJ, Wisloff U. Technical performance during soccer matches of the Italian Serie A league: effect of fatigue and competitive level. J Sci Med Sport. 2009;12(1):227–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Rozand V, Lebon F, Papaxanthis C, Lepers R. Effect of mental fatigue on speed-accuracy trade-off. Neuroscience. 2015;297:219–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Serpiello FR, Cox A, Oppici L, Hopkins WG, Varley MC. The loughborough soccer passing test has impractical criterion validity in elite youth football. Sci Med Footb. 2017;1(1):60–4.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1254810.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Knicker AJ, Renshaw I, Oldham ARH, Cairns SP. Interactive processes link the multiple systems of fatigue in sport competition. Sports Med. 2011;41(4):307–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Travassos B, Gonçalves B, Marcelino R, Monteiro R, Sampaio J. How perceiving additional targets modifies teams’ tactical behavior during football small-sided games. Hum Mov Sci. 2014;38:241–50.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2014.10.005.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Vaeyens R, Lenoir M, Williams AM, Mazyn L, Philippaerts RM. The effects of task constraints on visual search behavior and decision-making skill in youth soccer players. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2007;29(2):147.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Vaeyens R, Lenoir M, Williams AM, Philippaerts RM. Mechanisms underpinning successful decision making in skilled youth soccer players: an analysis of visual search behaviors. J Mot Behav. 2007;39(5):395–408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Mashiko T, Umeda T, Nakaji S, Sugawara K. Position related analysis of the appearance of and relationship between post-match physical and mental fatigue in university rugby football players. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38(5):617–21.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Terry PC, Lane AM, Fogarty GJ. Construct validity of the profile of mood states-adolescents for use with adults. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2003;4(2):125–39.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S1469-0292(01)00035-8.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Balasubramanian V, Adalarasu K, Gupta A. EEG based analysis of cognitive fatigue during simulated driving. Int J Ind Syst Eng. 2011;7(2):135–49.  https://doi.org/10.1504/IJISE.2011.038563.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Craig A, Tran Y, Wijesuriya N, Nguyen H. Regional brain wave activity changes associated with fatigue. Psychophysiology. 2012;49(4):574–82.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01329.x.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lamond N, Dawson D, Roach GD. Fatigue assessment in the field: validation of a hand-held electronic psychomotor vigilance task. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2005;76(5):486–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Brito J, Hertzog M, Nassis GP. Do match-related contextual variables influence training load in highly trained soccer players? J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(2):393–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Lambourne K, Tomporowski P. The effect of exercise-induced arousal on cognitive task performance: a meta-regression analysis. Brain Res. 2010;1341(1):12–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Van Dongen H, Belenky G, Krueger JM. Investigating the temporal dynamics and underlying mechanisms of cognitive fatigue. In: Ackerman PL, editor. Cognitive fatigue: multidisciplinary perspectives on current research and future applications. Washington: Am Psychol Assoc; 2011. p. 127–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Wagstaff C. Emotion regulation and sport performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2014;36(4):401–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Balkin TJ, Wesensten NJ. Differentiation of sleepiness and mental fatigue effects. In: Ackerman PL, editor. Cognitive fatigue: multidisciplinary perspectives on current research and future applications. Washington, DC: Am Psychol Assoc; 2011. p. 47–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Martin K, Staiano W, Menaspà P, Hennessey T, Marcora S, Keegan R, et al. Superior inhibitory control and resistance to mental fatigue in professional road cyclists. PLoS One. 2016;11(7):e0159907.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Marcora SM, Staiano W, Merlini M. A randomized controlled trial of brain endurance training (bet) to reduce fatigue during endurance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47(5S):198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Fullagar HHK, Skorski S, Duffield R, Hammes D, Coutts AJ, Meyer T. Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports Med. 2015;45(2):161–86.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0260-0.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Silva J, Rumpf M, Hertzog M, Castagna C, Farooq A, Girard O, et al. Acute and residual soccer match-related fatigue: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2018;48(3):1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Lew FL, Qu X. Effects of mental fatigue on biomechanics of slips. Ergonomics. 2014;57(12):1927–32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Bush G, Whalen PJ, Rosen BR, Jenike MA, McInerney SC, Rauch SL. The counting Stroop: an interference task specialized for functional neuroimaging—validation study with functional MRI. Hum Brain Mapp. 1998;6(4):270–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    MacDonald AW, Cohen JD, Stenger VA, Carter CS. Dissociating the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex in cognitive control. Science. 2000;288(5472):1835–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Mostofsky SH, Simmonds DJ. Response inhibition and response selection: two sides of the same coin. J Cogn Neurosci. 2008;20(5):751–61.  https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2008.20500.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Gunzelmann G, Moore LR, Gluck KA, Van Dongen H, Dinges DF. Fatigue in sustained attention: Generalizing mechanisms for time awake to time on task. In: Ackerman PL, editor. Cognitive fatigue: multidisciplinary perspectives on current research and future applications. Washington: Am Psychol Assoc; 2011. p. 83–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Desmond PA, Matthews G. Implications of task-induced fatigue effects for in-vehicle countermeasures to driver fatigue. Accid Anal Prev. 1997;29(4):515–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Lorist MM, Faber LG. Consideration of the influence of mental fatigue on controlled and automatic cognitive processes and related neuromodulatory effects. In: Ackerman PL, editor. Cognitive fatigue: multidisciplinary perspectives on current research and future applications. Washington: Am Psychol Assoc; 2011. p. 105–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Boksem MAS, Tops M. Mental fatigue: costs and benefits. Brain Res Rev. 2008;59(1):125–39.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresrev.2008.07.001.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Davis JM, Zhao Z, Stock HS, Mehl KA, Buggy J, Hand GA. Central nervous system effects of caffeine and adenosine on fatigue. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003;284(2):R399–404.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Holroyd CB, Coles MG. The neural basis of human error processing: reinforcement learning, dopamine, and the error-related negativity. Psychol Rev. 2002;109(4):679–708.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Lorist M, Tops M. Caffeine, fatigue, and cognition. Brain Cogn. 2003;53(1):82–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Lovatt D, Xu Q, Liu W, Takano T, Smith NA, Schnermann J, et al. Neuronal adenosine release, and not astrocytic ATP release, mediates feedback inhibition of excitatory activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2012;109(16):6265–70.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Salamone JD, Yohn SE, López-Cruz L, San Miguel N, Correa M. Activational and effort-related aspects of motivation: neural mechanisms and implications for psychopathology. Brain. 2016;139(5):1325–47.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Walton ME, Kennerley SW, Bannerman DM, Phillips PEM, Rushworth MFS. Weighing up the benefits of work: behavioral and neural analyses of effort-related decision making. Neural Netw. 2006;19(8):1302–14.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neunet.2006.03.005.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Ackerman PL. 100 years without resting. In: Ackerman PL, editor. Cognitive fatigue: multidisciplinary perspectives on current research and future applications. Washington: Am Psychol Assoc; 2011. p. 11–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Kato Y, Endo H, Kizuka T. Mental fatigue and impaired response processes: event-related brain potentials in a Go/NoGo task. Int J Psychophysiol. 2009;72(2):204–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Smith MD, Chamberlin CJ. Effect of adding cognitively demanding tasks on soccer skill performance. Percept Mot Skills. 1992;75(3):955–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    MacMahon C, Schücker L, Hagemann N, Strauss B. Cognitive fatigue effects on physical performance during running. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2014;36(4):375–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Pageaux B, Marcora SM, Lepers R. Prolonged mental exertion does not alter neuromuscular function of the knee extensors. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013;45(12):2254–64.  https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31829b504a.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Pageaux B, Lepers R, Dietz KC, Marcora SM. Response inhibition impairs subsequent self-paced endurance performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014;114(5):1095–105.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2838-5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Williamson J, McColl R, Mathews D, Mitchell J, Raven P, Morgan W. Hypnotic manipulation of effort sense during dynamic exercise: cardiovascular responses and brain activation. J Appl Physiol. 2001;90(4):1392–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Rudebeck PH, Walton ME, Smyth AN, Bannerman DM, Rushworth MF. Separate neural pathways process different decision costs. Nat Neurosci. 2006;9(9):1161–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Walton ME, Bannerman DM, Alterescu K, Rushworth MF. Functional specialization within medial frontal cortex of the anterior cingulate for evaluating effort-related decisions. J Neurosci. 2003;23(16):6475–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Swick D, Jovanovic J. Anterior cingulate cortex and the Stroop task: neuropsychological evidence for topographic specificity. Neuropsychologia. 2002;40(8):1240–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Van Cutsem J, De Pauw K, Marcora S, Meeusen R, Roelands B. A caffeine-maltodextrin mouth rinse counters mental fatigue. Psychopharmacology. 2018;235(4):947–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Ataka S, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, Mizuma H, Mizuno K, Tahara T, et al. Effects of oral administration of caffeine and D-ribose on mental fatigue. Nutrition. 2008;24(3):233–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Kennedy DO, Scholey AB. A glucose-caffeine ‘energy drink’ameliorates subjective and performance deficits during prolonged cognitive demand. Appetite. 2004;42(3):331–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Azevedo R, Silva-Cavalcante MD, Gualano B, Lima-Silva AE, Bertuzzi R. Effects of caffeine ingestion on endurance performance in mentally fatigued individuals. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116(11):2293–303.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-016-3483-y.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Del Coso J, Muñoz-Fernández VE, Muñoz G, Fernández-Elías VE, Ortega JF, Hamouti N, et al. Effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on simulated soccer performance. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31380.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Foskett A, Ali A, Gant N. Caffeine enhances cognitive function and skill performance during simulated soccer activity. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009;19(4):410–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Lara B, Gonzalez-Millán C, Salinero JJ, Abian-Vicen J, Areces F, Barbero-Alvarez JC, et al. Caffeine-containing energy drink improves physical performance in female soccer players. Amino Acids. 2014;46(5):1385–92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of NewcastleOurimbahAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Sport and Preventative MedicineSaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany
  3. 3.Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of Kent at MedwayChathamUK
  4. 4.Sport and Exercise Discipline Group, Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology SydneyMoore ParkAustralia

Personalised recommendations