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Eur J Sport Sci. 2019 Jun 23:1-11. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2019.1629179. [Epub ahead of print]

The benefits of a challenge approach on match day: Investigating cardiovascular reactivity in professional academy soccer players.

Author information

1
a Life Sciences and Education , Staffordshire University & Stoke City Football Club , Stoke on Trent , UK.
2
b Department of Psychology , Manchester Metropolitan University , Manchester , UK.
3
c Life Sciences and Education , Staffordshire University , Stoke on Trent , UK.

Abstract

This study assessed physiological (cardiovascular) and psychological (confidence, control, and approach focus) data in professional academy soccer players prior to performance in competitive matches. A challenge state is characterised by an increase in cardiac output (CO), and a decrease in total peripheral vascular resistance (TPR). Data were collected from 37 participants, with 19 of these providing data on two separate occasions. Performance was measured using coach and player self-ratings. Challenge reactivity was positively, and significantly, associated with performance. Participants who demonstrated blunted cardiovascular (CV) responses performed significantly worse than participants who displayed either challenge or threat reactivity. There was mixed consistency in CV reactivity for those participants whose data were collected on more than one occasion, suggesting that some participants responded differently across the competitive matches. The association between self-report data and CV responses was weak. This study supports previous research demonstrating that challenge reactivity is associated with superior performance.

KEYWORDS:

Theory of challenge and threat states in athletes; cognitive appraisal; emotion; soccer; stress

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