The effects of mental fatigue on sport-related performance

Prog Brain Res. 2018:240:291-315. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.004. Epub 2018 Oct 26.


Mental fatigue is known to increase subjective feelings of fatigue and to decrease cognitive performance, but its impact on physical performance remains poorly understood. The aim of this chapter was to review the results of 29 studies published between 2009 and April 2018 and focusing on the impact of mental fatigue on sport-related performance. Taken all studies together, it appears that mental fatigue impairs endurance performance, motor skills performance and decision-making performance. However, maximal force production is not reduced in the presence of mental fatigue. These observations suggest that mental fatigue impairs sport-related performance during exercises performed at a submaximal intensity and not during exercises performed at maximal and supramaximal intensity. The negative impact of mental fatigue on submaximal exercises seems to be mediated by an increase in perception of effort. Future studies should now identify the physiological alterations induced by mental fatigue and responsible of the increased perceived effort.

Keywords: Cognitive fatigue; Decision-making; Endurance performance; Force production capacity; Motor skills; Perceived exertion; Perception of effort; Psychophysiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / psychology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Mental Fatigue / psychology
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Perception / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*