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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02409

Dynamics of executive functions, basic psychological needs, impulsivity, and depressive symptoms in American football players

 Xóchitl A. Ortiz-Jiménez1*, Yahel Rincon-Campos2*, Javier Sanchez-Lopez3, 4 and  Jeanette M. López-Walle2
  • 1Faculty of Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Mexico
  • 2Facultad de Organización Deportiva, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Mexico
  • 3University of Verona, Italy
  • 4Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine, and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Italy

Executive functions play an important role in sports since the ability to plan, organize and regulate behavior to reach an objective or goal depends on these functions. Some of the components of executive functions, such as inhibition of impulsive behavior and cognitive flexibility are necessary for contact sports (e.g., American football) to carry out successful plays on the sports field. Executive functions have been studied in the sporting environment, but their relationship with the athletes’ basic psychological needs, such as autonomy, competence, and relatedness, remains unexplored. Due to the importance of motivational processes over cognitive functions and in the generated adaptive results in athletes, this relationship should be taken into account. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze and compare executive functioning and psychological need thwarting over impulsivity and psychological distress, before and after the season (four months) in 28 undergraduate football players. Neuropsychological and psychological tests were applied. The results showed that there was an improvement in inhibition and planning at the end of the season. There was also an increase in attention and motor impulsiveness, and a decrease in need thwarting at the end of the season. A positive association between executive function, impulsiveness, psychological needs, and affective symptoms were also found. Our findings reveal the dynamics of sport-related psychological variables throughout the sport season in American football players, the association of these for the achievement of sport success and the importance of encouraging proper management of emotions.

Keywords: inhibition, Frustration, football (American), Cognition, motivational process

Received: 23 Jun 2019; Accepted: 09 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Ortiz-Jiménez, Rincon-Campos, Sanchez-Lopez and López-Walle. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
PhD. Xóchitl A. Ortiz-Jiménez, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Faculty of Psychology, San Nicolás de los Garza, 64460, Monterrey, Mexico,
MD. Yahel Rincon-Campos, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Facultad de Organización Deportiva, San Nicolás de los Garza, 66451, Nuevo León4, Mexico,