Mental workload impairs the pass precision in soccer players

Francisco Alarcón, Alberto Castillo-Díaz, Iker Madinabeitia, Alfonso Castillo-Rodríguez, David Cárdenas


During the competition, soccer players must make both physical and mental efforts simultaneously. This dual-task situation impairs performance in skills that require precision only in those athletes who do not have automated those skills. However, there has been little control over the nature and magnitude of the mental load that athletes experience during play actions, and to what extent such a load is detrimental to athletic performance. In order to advance this knowledge, a counter-balanced intrasubject study was designed with repeated post-condition measures on two conditions, a specific physical and coordinating task of soccer, and a dual-task in which the main task was maintained and in which the secondary had cognitive control requirements. Twenty-eight male semi-professional players participated [middle age = 20.07 years (± 0.23)]. The presence of physical charge simultaneous to the mental load had a negative effect on accuracy. In turn, the emotional states aroused in the double task predicted performance in the motor task. Forcing the player to have to use their attentional resources in the mental task seems not to allow an adequate use of the available information necessary for an effcient adjustment of the action.


Dual-task; Cognitive workload; Anxiety; Motor performance; Attentional control

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