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Physiol Behav. 2014 May 10;130:170-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 12.

The social environment during a post-match video presentation affects the hormonal responses and playing performance in professional male athletes.

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School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK; United Kingdom Sports Council, London, UK; Health and Sport Portfolio, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, UK; Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College, London, UK.
Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College, London, UK. Electronic address:


This study examined the social environment effects during a post-match video presentation on the hormonal responses and match performance in professional male rugby union players. The study participants (n=12) watched a 1-hour video of mixed content (player mistakes and successes) from a match played 1 day earlier in the presence of; (1) strangers who were bigger (SB), (2) strangers who were smaller (SS), (3) friends who were bigger (FB) and (4) friends who were smaller (FS). The salivary testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) responses to a physical stress test were assessed 3 days later, along with pre-match T levels and match-ranked performance 6-7 days later. All treatments were associated with elevated T responses (% change from baseline) to the stress test with SS>SB and FB>FS. The C stress responses after the SS and SB interventions were both greater than FS and FB. On match-day, the FB approach was linked to higher T concentrations than SB and better ranked performance than FS and SS. The subsequent testing of a population sub-group (n=8) across a video (V) and a non-video (NV) presentation in a neutral social environment produced similar stress-test and performance outcomes, but pre-match T concentrations differed (V>NV). In conclusion, the presence of other males during a post-match video assessment had some influence on the hormonal responses of male athletes and match performance in the week that followed. Thus, the social environment during a post-match assessment could moderate performance and recovery in elite sport and, in a broader context, could be a possible modulator of human stress responses.


Behaviour; Neuroendocrine; Recovery; Sport; Stress

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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