Detrimental effects of prior self‐control exertion on subsequent sporting skill performance

Boat, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-4897-8118, Sunderland, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-7484-1345 and Cooper, S.B. ORCID: 0000-0001-5219-5020, 2021. Detrimental effects of prior self‐control exertion on subsequent sporting skill performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. ISSN 0905-7188

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The prior exertion of self-control has previously been shown to negatively affect physical performance, yet the effects on complex sporting skill performance have not been examined. Therefore, this study examined whether prior self-control exertion influences performance on a field hockey task, alongside measuring plasma cortisol concentration and attention as potential mechanisms to explain any effects.

Following familiarization, 13 male hockey players (20 ± 1 years) participated in a randomized, order-balanced, crossover design. For the manipulation of self-control, participants completed an incongruent (self-control exertion trial) or a congruent (control trial) Stroop task. Skill performance was assessed using a field hockey skills task. Capillary blood samples, for the determination of plasma cortisol concentration, were taken at baseline, post-Stroop task, and post-field hockey skills task. Cognitive tests of attention (RVIP and Flanker tasks) were completed following the field hockey skills task.

Participants made more errors in the latter stages of the field hockey skills task following self-control exertion (trial*time interaction, p = 0.041). Participants also made more errors on the RVIP task following self-control exertion (p = 0.035); yet the time taken to complete the hockey skills task, performance on the flanker task, and plasma cortisol concentrations were unaffected (all p > 0.05).

Overall, these findings suggest that prior self-control exertion has detrimental effects on subsequent sporting skill performance (more errors made on the field hockey task), which may be explained by poorer sustained attention (lower accuracy on the RVIP task). This suggests that athletes should aim to avoid self-control exertion before a competitive match to optimize performance.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Creators: Boat, R., Sunderland, C. and Cooper, S.B.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 28 June 2021
ISSN: 0905-7188
Rights: © 2021 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 09 Jul 2021 08:30
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2021 08:30

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