Do young people’s executive functioning capabilities impact their ability to apportion effort during a high intensity intermittent running task?
Hunter, Anna Young
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Recent studies have investigated a potential link between an invasion games (e.g. rugby, football, field hockey) players executive functioning (EF) capabilities and their performance on the pitch (Verburgh, Scherder, van Lange, Oosterlaan, & Perales, 2014; Vestberg, Gustafson, Maurex, Ingvar, & Petrovic, 2012). These studies have suggested that a player’s EF might be-able to predict on-field ability. To date no studies have investigated whether EF impacts an invasion games player’s ability to plan and distribute effort during a high intensity intermittent running task. Furthermore, previous studies on EF and sporting performance have exclusively used adults as their sample population with no research conducted in youth athletes. Here, I evaluated a link between a youth players EF capability and their ability to plan and distribute effort during an intermittent high intensity running task. A secondary aim of the thesis was to assess whether the addition of external feedback influenced how a young person paces during a high intensity intermittent running task. Participants’ performance was assessed via physiological and psychological measures. During the physiological tasks, players were required to complete the YYIR1 test, which provided a target speed for the subsequent running tasks. The high intensity intermittent running task was 10 minutes in length. The psychological task required players to complete the Iowa Gambling Task, which is a card game that assesses EF ability. Forty-four players participated in the study with thirty-two full data sets collected (age: 14.68 ± 0.8) The results demonstrated that participants EF score did not correlate with how well players paced during the high intensity intermittent running task. However, the study did show that participants pacing ability was significantly greater when external feedback was present and one piece of feedback early on in a task is just as effective as continuous feedback. This study suggests using external feedback during intermittent high intensity exercise is effective with youth players. It also seems to suggest EF may not be related too pacing performance. However, further research is required. Reasons for this finding are discussed in the context of finding the most appreciate test of EF and definitional issues of EF.