We examined the effect of different pre-match motivational interventions on athlete free testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) concentrations and subsequent match performance in professional rugby union. Male participants (n = 12) playing at a senior or academy level in rugby union were recruited and each completed three interventions (15. min each) before a competitive game; 1) watching a video clip of successful skill execution by the player with positive coach feedback [VPCF1]; 2) watching a video clip of successful skill execution by an opposing player with cautionary coach feedback [VCCF], 3) the player left alone to self-motivate [SM1]. The first and last interventions were retested [VPCF2 and SM2]. Salivary free T and C measures were taken pre-intervention and pre-game. Within each game, players were rated by coaching staff on a key performance indicator (KPI) from identified skills and an overall performance indicator (OPI), where 1 = best performance to 5 = worst performance. The VPCF1 and VPCF2 interventions both promoted significant T responses (11.8% to 12.5%) before each game and more so than SM1, SM2 and VCCF. The VCCF approach produced the largest C response (17.6%) and this differed from all other treatments. The VPCF interventions were also associated with better game KPI (1.5 to 1.8) and OPI ratings (1.7 to 1.8) than SM1, SM2 and/or VCCF. Across all treatments, greater individual T responses and lower C responses were associated with better KPI and OPI outcomes. In conclusion, the pre-game presentation of motivational strategies to athletes involving specific video footage and coach feedback produced different outcomes on two indicators of match performance, which were also associated with changes in free hormonal state.
Cook, C. J., & Crewther, B. T. (2012). The effects of different pre-game motivational interventions on athlete free hormonal state and subsequent performance in professional rugby union matches. Physiology and Behavior, 106(5), 683-688. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.05.009