Research Impact: Understanding skill acquisition is not just a requirement for performance enhancement in the sport arena. The forthcoming Rugby World Cup will demonstrate how skill execution differentiates winners from losers. Injury recovery often necessitates re-learning of skill and illuminating our understanding of the underlying processes is crucial not just for athletes but for those recovery from injury, including cerebral trauma. The cognitive simulation strategies for skill learning that have recently been subject to research scrutiny include mental imagery and action observation. Mental imagery (MI) is a well known topic and action observation (AO) refers to attending to a visual display of a movement when the intention of learning. They can be both combined giving us a MI+AO condition. This is the first ever study to investigate the short term effectiveness of mental training including AO on maximal isometric strength. Both AO and AO+MI conditions increased strength at the individual session level. In other words simulating specific movements even for a small number of trials increases the activation in the targeted muscle. Rehabilitation specialists should integrate even small bouts of AO and MI into their protocols (see MacIntyre et al. 2013 . The next step for researchers is to use transcranial magnetic stimulation to examine the neural pathways involved in the contrasting cognitive simulation techniques.
Di Rienzo, F., Joassy, P., Kanthack, T., MacIntyre, T.E., Debarnot, U., Blache, Y., Hautier, C., Collet, C. and Guillot, A., 2019. Effects of action observation and action observation combined with motor imagery on maximal isometric strength. Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.08.025