Physical activity as part of esports training: A pilot study on how players and coaches experience physical activity implemented in training

🇳🇴 In Danish

Lars Domino Østergaard1, Robert Juul Jønsson2,
Anders Bern Kronborg
2, Christian Lund Nørgaard Straszek3
1 Aalborg University, Department of Health Science and Technology, Sport and Social Issues;  2 Aalborg University, Department of Health Science and Technology, Sport Sciences; 3 Aalborg University, Department of Health Science and Technology

Esports is growing exponentially, and becoming a skilled gamer it requires several hours of practice in front of the computer. Unfortunately, this sedentary behavior may have negative consequences for the participants physical, psychological and social wellbeing. By implementing physical activities during esports training sessions, it is possible not only to reduce the physical consequences of gaming, but also to enhance the gamers’ physical and social competencies alongside their esports-related skills.

To investigate how physical activities can be implemented into esports training, two esports teams (one Fortnite and one Counter-Strike) were observed during their training sessions for two weeks. The Fortnite team (boys, 9–11 years old) had implemented role play and brain breaks in their training, whereas the CS:GO team (boys, 11–13 years old) had implemented rule games besides brain breaks.

Data in the form of observations and interviews with gamers and their coaches were collected and thematically analyzed. Themes as play, variation in training, concentration and communication, and social competencies were identified and discussed in relation to the form by which the physical activities were implemented, and how the gamers experienced the activities. Results revealed that gamers from both teams enjoyed the game-related physical activities as well as the brain breaks, as they found the physical activities both appropriate, meaningful and enjoyable. The gamers also found that the activities positively influenced their executive functions and their physical health as well as their social competencies.

Our recommendations based on our research are that physical activities during gameplay are that physical activities during gameplay have to be meaningful and relevant to the actual computer game played by the gamers, and need to include playfully elements.

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LARS DOMINO ØSTERGAARD, Pd.D., is an associate professor, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University. He studies joy of movement and psychosocial benefits of being physically active. His primary research interest is how to motivate children and adolescents to be physically active, and how joy of movement can enhance life skills as well as physical, psychological and social competencies.

ROBERT JUUL JØNSSON, is a Stud.Cand.Scient at Sports Science, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg Universitet. He studies the implementation of play, movement, and physical activity in esports. His primary research interest is in how children and adolescents in an esports context experience the implementation of playful physical activity as motivating and relevant. Furthermore, he focusses on young esports players experience of physical activity as a beneficial way to develop useful esport skills and abilities.

ANDERS BERN KRONBORG is a Master’s Student in Sports Science, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University. In terms of research his interests are broad, but especially the inclusion of vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, in sports and exercise, as well as the importance of moving sports and exercise out into green environments.

CHRISTIAN LUND STRASZEK is a Physiotherapist, M.Sc. in Physiotherapy, Ph.d.-student at the Department of Health Science and Technology at Aalborg University and the Center for General Practice at Aalborg University. He conducts research concerning the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among children and adolescents who seek care from their general practitioner. He is also studying the field of health in esports, with a special focus on the incidence of pain and injury, as well as whether physical activity can improve health and esport-related performance.

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