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G-38 Free Communication/Poster - Training Saturday, June 1, 2019, 7: 30 AM - 11: 00 AM Room: CC-Hall WA2

Impact of 4-week Brain Endurance Training (BET) on Cognitive and Physical Performance in Professional Football Players

3504 Board #192 June 1 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Staiano, Walter1; Merlini, Michele2; Gattoni, Chiara2; Marcora, Samuele3

Author Information
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 6S - p 964
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000563395.36093.aa
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PURPOSE: It has been hypostasized that acute negative effect of mental fatigue (MF) could potentially become a training stimulus for the brain (Brain endurance training [BET]) to adapt and improve its ability to better sustain or attenuate MF states during sport competitions. The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of BET to reduce fatigue during a battery of cognitive and physical tests in players from a professional football team. We hypothesised that combination of BET and standard physical training during a 4-week period would increase cognitive capacity and physical football performance by increasing resilience to fatigue, more than standard football training alone.

METHODS: 24 professional football players were randomly assigned to 2 different training groups: BET and Control. Both groups completed 20 supervised physical training sessions. Immediately after each session BET group completed on average 400 min (20 min/session) of cognitive training. Control group, instead, was asked to listen to neutral music for the same amount of time. Endurance performance (30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test), Sprint and Decision Making (RSA Random Test), Reactive Agility alongside with cognitive performance (STROOP Task) were measured at baseline (pre-test) and after 4 weeks of training (post-test). Data were analysed using mixed model ANOVAs.

RESULTS: STROOP task showed reaction time in both groups decreased at post-test. However, BET decreased significantly more compared to control group (p < 0.02) despite no significant differences in accuracy. BET group completed the reactive agility test significantly faster than the control group (p < 0.05) and with lesser fouls (p < 0.03). During the RSA Random Test no significant differences were found between the groups for linear acceleration phase (first 10 m). However, BET group completed significantly faster (p < 0.05) the decisional phase (second 10 m). Distance covered during the 30-15 test showed there was no difference in the performance of the BET group. However, control group showed a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in performance.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study provide evidence that the combination of BET and standard football training is more effective than standard training alone in boosting cognitive and physical performance in elite football players.

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