Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 1525–1532 | Cite as

Mental Fatigue and Soccer: Current Knowledge and Future Directions

  • Mitchell R. SmithEmail author
  • Chris Thompson
  • Samuele M. Marcora
  • Sabrina Skorski
  • Tim Meyer
  • Aaron J. Coutts
Leading Article


Fatigue is a complex state with multiple physiological and psychological origins. However, fatigue in soccer has traditionally been investigated from a physiological perspective, with little emphasis on the cognitive demands of competition. These cognitive demands may induce mental fatigue, which could contribute to the fatigue-related performance decrements observed during and after soccer matches. Recent research investigating the relationship between mental fatigue and soccer-specific performance supports this suggestion. This leading article provides an overview of the research in this emerging field, outlining the impact of mental fatigue on soccer-specific physical, technical, decision-making, and tactical performances. The second half of this review provides directions for future research in response to the limitations of the existing research. Emphasis is placed on translating the current body of knowledge into practical applications and developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms underpinning the negative impact of mental fatigue on soccer performance. A conceptual model is presented to help direct this future research.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

Mitchell R. Smith, Chris Thompson, Samuele M. Marcora, Sabrina Skorski, Tim Meyer and Aaron J. Coutts have no conflicts of interest.


No funding was provided for completion of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of NewcastleOurimbahAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Sport and Preventative MedicineSaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany
  3. 3.Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of Kent at MedwayChathamUK
  4. 4.Sport and Exercise Discipline Group, Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology SydneyMoore ParkAustralia

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