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Effect of Acute Mild Dehydration on Cognitive-Motor Performance in Golf

Smith, Mark F.; Newell, Alex J.; Baker, Mistrelle R.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 11 - p 3075–3080
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318245bea7
Original Research

Abstract: Smith, MF, Newell, AJ, and Baker, MA. Effect of acute mild dehydration on cognitive-motor performance in golf. J Strength Cond Res 26(11): 3075–3080, 2012—Whether mild dehydration (−1 to 3% body mass change [ΔBM]) impairs neurophysiological function during sport-specific cognitive-motor performance has yet to be fully elucidated. To investigate this within a golfing context, 7 low-handicap players (age: 21 ± 1.1 years; mass: 76.1 ± 11.8 kg; stature: 1.77 ± 0.07 m; handicap: 3.0 ± 1.2) completed a golf-specific motor and cognitive performance task in a euhydrated condition (EC) and dehydrated condition (DC) (randomized counterbalanced design; 7-day interval). Dehydration was controlled using a previously effective 12-hour fluid restriction, monitored through ΔBM and urine color assessment (UCOL). Mild dehydration reduced the mean BM by 1.5 ± 0.5% (p = 0.01), with UCOL increasing from 2 (EC) to 4 (DC) (p = 0.02). Mild dehydration significantly impaired motor performance, expressed as shot distance (114.6 vs. 128.6 m; p < 0.001) and off-target accuracy (7.9 vs. 4.1 m; p = 0.001). Cognitive performance, expressed as the mean error in distance judgment to target increased from 4.1 ± 3.0 m (EC) to 8.8 ± 4.7 m (DC) (p < 0.001). The findings support those of previous research that indicates mild dehydration (−1 to 2% ΔBM) significantly impairs cognitive-motor task performance. This study is the first to show that mild dehydration can impair distance, accuracy, and distance judgment during golf performance.

School of Sport, Coaching, and Exercise Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Mark F. Smith,

Copyright © 2012 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.