The Effect of a Competitive Futsal Match on Psychomotor Vigilance in Referees

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Context: Referees’ physical and cognitive performance are important for successful officiating in team sports. There is a lack of research on cognitive performance of referees in general, and none in futsal. Purpose: To assess referees’ performance on the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) before and after competitive futsal matches during the Football Association (FA) National Futsal League 2015/16. Methods: Fourteen futsal referees (mean [SD] age 34.3 [10.0] y) from the FA National Futsal group were included. The referees were required to undertake a 10-min PVT 60 min before the match kickoff time (pretest) and immediately after matches (posttest). They also completed the Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS) questionnaire before the prematch PVT and after the postmatch PVT. Result: Data were analyzed by paired t tests comparing prematch and postmatch results. There was a significant difference in BRUMS parameters vigor (9.5 [2.5] prematch vs 6.3 [2.4] postmatch, P = .001) and fatigue (1.4 [1.3] prematch vs 5.6 [3.1] postmatch, P < .001). However, PVT performance was significantly improved (mean reaction time 248.3 [26.2] ms prematch vs 239.7 [22.4] ms postmatch, P = .023). Conclusions: The present results show, contrary to the authors’ initial hypothesis, that psychomotor performance is improved as opposed to decreased after a single match. The postmatch improvement suggests that exercise can acutely enhance cognitive performance, which could be used to inform warm-up practices (eg, optimal duration and intensity) geared toward optimizing referees’ cognitive performance during matches.

Ahmed is with the College of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Iraq-Kurdistan Region. Marcora and Davison are with the Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Chatham Maritime, United Kingdom. Marcora is also with the Dept. of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Dixon is with the School of Animal and Human Science, Writtle University College, Chelmsford, United Kingdom.

Ahmed ( and Davison ( are corresponding authors.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table 1 (pdf 516 KB)