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Psychological determinants of whole-body endurance performance

McCormick, Alister, Meijen, Carla, Marcora, Samuele Maria (2015) Psychological determinants of whole-body endurance performance. Sports Medicine, 45 (7). pp. 997-1015. ISSN 0112-1642. E-ISSN 1179-2035. (doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0319-6) (KAR id:47704)


Background: No literature reviews have systematically identified and evaluated research on the psychological determinants of endurance performance, and sport psychology performance-enhancement guidelines for endurance sports are not founded on a systematic appraisal of endurance-specific research.

Objective: A systematic literature review was conducted to identify practical psychological interventions that improve endurance performance and to identify additional psychological factors that affect endurance performance. Additional objectives were to evaluate the research practices of included studies, to suggest theoretical and applied implications, and to guide future research.

Methods: Electronic databases, forward-citation searches, and manual searches of reference lists were used to locate relevant studies. Peer-reviewed studies were included when they chose an experimental or quasi-experimental research design, a psychological manipulation, endurance performance as the dependent variable, and athletes or physically-active, healthy adults as participants.

Results: Consistent support was found for using imagery, self-talk, and goal setting to improve endurance performance, but it is unclear whether learning multiple psychological skills is more beneficial than learning one psychological skill. The results also demonstrated that mental fatigue undermines endurance performance, and verbal encouragement and head-to-head competition can have a beneficial effect. Interventions that influenced perception of effort consistently affected endurance performance.

Conclusions: Psychological skills training could benefit an endurance athlete. Researchers are encouraged to compare different practical psychological interventions, to examine the effects of these interventions for athletes in competition, and to include a placebo control condition or an alternative control treatment. Researchers are also encouraged to explore additional psychological factors that could have a negative effect on endurance performance. Future research should include psychological mediating variables and moderating variables. Implications for theoretical explanations of endurance performance and evidence-based practice are described.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s40279-015-0319-6
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: C. Meijen
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2015 16:09 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

McCormick, Alister.

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Meijen, Carla.

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Marcora, Samuele Maria.

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