Playing Fortnite improves your padel (yes, really!)
It’s the headline we never thought we’d write and the news junior players have been waiting for! Playing Fortnite can, according to academics, improve your padel game. The Bandeja reports…
Yes, we are just as astonished and feel sure we can hear cheers of support around the country from teens handed a mandate to ‘Fortnite’ to their hearts’ content ahead of their padel lessons and matches.
So what’s the science behind the headline?
A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport and conducted by the University of Birmingham alongside colleagues from Spain and Portugal showed that padel players produced faster and more accurate shots when fatigued after completing a programme of mentally demanding tasks called Brain Endurance Training (BET).
The finding were clear – players looking for match-winning performance could benefit from strenuous brain exercises, such as computer games, before, during and after training.
Taxing word puzzles on a phone app were used to produce to produce mental fatigue in one group of players. After six weeks of training, the 31 players who took part in the BET workouts during training were able to perform a range of shots more powerfully and accurately in a mentally fatigued state compared to the control group. By the end of the six weeks of training the BET group were performing nearly as well when fatigued as when in a fresh rested state.
Video games like Fortnite could be beneficial – as long as it’s demanding rather than relaxing.
Professor Christopher Ring
Christopher Ring, Professor of Psychology at the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences and co-author of the study said: “We know that mental fatigue can impair physical performance and a growing body of research shows that brain training can have a positive effect in those crucial moments in a competition.
“In our latest research, we found that brain endurance training (BET) – the repetitive combination of cognitive and physical tasks – increases the overall cognitive load of the training session. Over time this can increase mental stamina, leading to improvements in physical performance. Importantly, however, it doesn’t add extra physical load on the athlete’s cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
“Significantly, although we used one specific type of brain training which involved solving a puzzle with cognitively dissonant colours and words, any activity that overloads the brain could be effective for overloading the system. As a result, video games like Fortnite could be beneficial – as long as it’s demanding rather than relaxing. However, bespoke cognitive training apps, such as SOMA-NPT, are a better option for athletes who wish to improve their mental fatigue durability.”
Dr Jesus Diaz-Garcia, padel coach, researcher in sport science from the University of Extremadura and lead author of the study said: “Similar to other sports, psychological training practices are now being incorporated into padel. Indeed, padel players are aware of the importance of training their psychological skills.
“We know, on one hand, that padel is mentally fatiguing and, on the other hand, that high levels of mental fatigue impair padel performance. Brain endurance training is a promising countermeasure to deal with the negative effects of mental fatigue on the psychomotor performance, which is a very important practical application for coaches. Indeed, the players and coaches asked us to let them continue the training programme after the study finished. They highlighted the novelty of the BET program as well as associated high levels of engagement, motivation, and effectiveness.” 🎾