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Psychological Determinants of Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review Alister McCormick , Carla Meijen & Samuele PowerPoint Presentation
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Psychological Determinants of Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review Alister McCormick , Carla Meijen & Samuele
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  1. Psychological Determinants of Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review Alister McCormick, Carla Meijen & Samuele Marcora Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent Aim A systematic literature review was conducted to identify psychological constructs that influence whole-body endurance performance (distance running, cycling, rowing, swimming, triathlon) and to identify psychological interventions that are effective at improving endurance performance. Systematic reviews support evidence-based practice by identifying interventions that have been shown to be effective by reliable research studies. They can also be used to identify gaps in the literature and to direct future research (Petticrew & Roberts, 2006). Method Definition Endurance was defined as whole-body, dynamic exercise that involves continuous effort and lasts for 75 seconds or longer. Inclusion Criteria Included research studies used an experimental or quasi-experimental research design, a psychological intervention, an endurance outcome measure, and athletes or physically-active adults as participants. Included research studies were peer reviewed and published in English language. Sources Electronic databases (Academic Search Complete, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, Web of Knowledge), forward-citation searches and manual searches of reference lists were used to locate experimental studies. 175 keyword variations were included in database searches (e.g., self-talk, motivation, running, cycling, marathon, time-to-exhaustion). Evaluating Included Studies The Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies (Thomas, Ciliska, Dobbins, & Micucci, 2004) was modified to evaluate included studies. Results • Constructs (11 studies) • Eight studies related to motivation, which was increased using head-to-head competition, verbal encouragement and financial incentives. Motivation generally improved performance. Mental fatigue decreased endurance performance and high efficacy strength improved performance. • Quality of Included Studies • Interventions (24 studies) • Of the studies that aimed to improve endurance performance, all except one found that at least one of the tested interventions was effective. Effective interventions were association, dissociation, goal setting, hypnosis, imagery, pre-performance statements, psychological skills training (PST) packages and self-talk. Particular support was found for PST packages because these interventions were effective in three sports, with athletes, in real-life and simulated competition, and in multiple posttests. * One study was assigned “not applicable” Implications for Practice Practitioners interested in performance enhancement could use self-talk, imagery or goal setting (individually or combined) for motivational purposes. As mental fatigue increased perceived exertion and decreased endurance, sport scientists could help endurance athletes with their time schedule to ensure that they avoid mentally-draining activities before they compete. Implications for Research Different PST interventions were not compared for effectiveness and PST packages were not compared with their individual components. A PST package might be more time consuming than a single strategy (e.g., self-talk) without further improving performance. Researchers are therefore encouraged to compare alternative interventions. Researchers testing interventions are encouraged to carefully choose and measure psychological mediating variables, include a placebo control group and measure performance in multiple posttests. Researchers are also encouraged to check if participants continue to use the intervention after completion of the study and report withdrawals and dropouts. Studies that consider moderating variables (e.g., competitive level, gender, goal orientation) or measure performance of athletes in competition could complement existing literature. Take Home Message We have a clear understanding of what interventions “work” at improving endurance performance; less is known about how and for whom these interventions work or what works best. References Petticrew, M., & Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide. Oxford, England: Blackwell. Thomas, B.H., Ciliska, D., Dobbins, M., & Micucci, S. (2004). A process for systematically reviewing the literature: Providing theresearch evidence for public health nursing interventions. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 1, 176-184. Retrieved from