The effect of exercise-induced fatigue and heat exposure on soccer-specific decision-making during high-intensity intermittent exercise

PLoS One. 2022 Dec 15;17(12):e0279109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279109. eCollection 2022.


Global warming and the globalisation of sport has increased the prevalence of sports competitions being held in hot environments. However, there is currently limited research investigating the impact of the heat on soccer-specific decision-making skills during exercise reflective of the physical demands of match-play. Therefore, the effects of heat exposure on physical and soccer-specific decision-making performance, biological markers (i.e., metanephrines), appraisal (i.e., challenge vs. threat) and affective states, during prolonged high-intensity intermittent exercise were investigated. Nine well-trained male soccer players completed a 92-min cycling intermittent sprint protocol (CISP), whilst simultaneously responding to a series of soccer-specific decision-making trials at various time points, in two temperature conditions: hot (32°C, 50%rh) and temperate (18°C, 50%rh). Results showed that decision-making score (p = .030) was impaired in the hot compared to the temperate condition. There was a reduced workload in the second half during the hot condition (p = .016), which coincided with a heightened threat state (p = .007) and more unpleasant feelings (p = .008) experienced in the hot, compared to temperate, condition. Furthermore, plasma normetanephrine (NMET) was higher at half-time (p = .012) and post-CISP (p ≤ .001). Also, plasma metanephrine (MET) was higher post-CISP (p = .009) in the hot compared to temperate condition, reflecting a heightened stress response. Our findings highlight the need for practitioners to consider the detrimental effects heat exposure can have on both physical and decision-making performance when looking to facilitate performance in hot conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance* / physiology
  • Bicycling
  • Fatigue
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Soccer* / physiology

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.