The performance of athletes depends on various factors, including their physical and mental states, the level of their preparedness, their ability to concentrate and learn. It is important to pay sufficient attention to all these aspects as well as have a clear understanding of the exact ways they affect people’s performance. This paper provides a brief analysis of the link between warm-ups, learning, attention, performance, and fatigue.
The effects of warm-up on athletes’ performance have been a topic of extensive research, which resulted in the development of a substantial knowledge base on the matter. It has been acknowledged that warm-up has an overall positive effect on people’s physical and psychological states (Frikha, Chaâri, Gharbi, & Souissi, 2016). Warm-ups improve blood circulation and increase the temperature of muscles, which is critical for enhancing performance and preventing injuries. Regarding the mental aspect, warmups lead to psychological stability and preparedness for, as well as overall confidence in, performance (Park et al., 2018).
At the same time, McCrary, Ackermann, and Halaki (2015) state that different types of warm-ups have diverse or even no effect, so it is essential to choose the most effective exercise to prepare athletes for productive training and excellent performance. Apart from exact influences on performance, warm-ups affect information processing and learning (Magill & Anderson, 2017). Mental activity is enhanced due to improved blood flow and certain mental relaxation, which leads to more effective information processing and, as a result, learning.
The ability to concentrate is one of the premises for proper preparation and appropriate performance. Wulf (2007) stresses that attention correlates with performance, as well as the learning of motor skills. However, it is also noted that the external attention focus (for instance, the concentration on movement effects) is more effective as compared to internal attention focus (such as the concentration on the movement itself). In a more recent study, Wulf (2013) provides evidence to support similar findings and states that attentional focus is beneficial for motor skills learning, as well as movement effectiveness and efficiency.
When considering the factors influencing athletes’ performance, it is necessary to pay attention to fatigue. Increased attention is linked to a higher degree of fatigue, especially when it comes to some types of focus (Bertollo et al., 2015). For instance, the low level of concentration or the focus on the relevant aspects of tasks is associated with higher performance and delayed or less intensive fatigue. The focus on irrelevant components of the task leads to increased fatigue and lower performance. It has been found that warm-ups can have a twofold impact on performance and fatigue (Salgado, Ribeiro, & Oliveira, 2015).
On the one hand, these activities often lead to fatigue, especially when conducted improperly. Silva, Neiva, Marques, Izquierdo, and Marinho (2018) note that intensive warm-ups combined with a short period of rest lead to better performance and delayed fatigue, which is specifically apparent in team sports.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the link between attention focus, fatigue, warm-up, and performance is evident. It is pivotal to make sure that athletes carry out warm-ups properly (with definite intensity and intervals) to enhance performance and learning while decreasing and delaying fatigue. Attention focus is another important aspect to consider as athletes’ performance may decrease due to increased fatigue. Current literature on the matter can help trainers and athletes to optimize their training and achieve high results.
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