Cognitive skills in sports performance

How does Cognitive training help in today's athletic arena? First the basics - what is cognition? The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Cognitive skills in sports performance

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No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Team sports place high demands on visuospatial and other cognitive skills.

However, there is a lack of research on visuospatial skills of elite athletes and there are heterogeneous results on basic cognitive skills of this population. Therefore, this series of studies tested different cognitive skills in elite team sports athletes.

In Experiment 1, elite athletes were compared to recreational athletes, but no differences Cognitive skills in sports performance observed between the groups in choice response time CRT and mental rotation MR.

To see if differences could be observed when the tested groups had a greater difference in expertise and more representative stimuli, in Experiment 2, we tested CRT and MR of elite athletes who had higher level of expertise, and we also used three-dimensional human stimuli.

We found that elite athletes only performed better in sustained attention. Building on this data, in a supplementary analysis Experiment 4 we tested whether MR and CRTs are correlated with basic cognitive skills.

Results show that processing speed is the best predictor for MR, whereas letter readout speed explains most of the variance in CRTs. Finally, we discuss these findings against the backdrop of expertise and offer implications for future studies on mental rotation.

The results showed that physical exercise improved cognitive performance, mainly for tasks that require greater amounts of cognitive control, but also for basic cognitive measures. Apart from physical exercise, some studies have shown that cognitive skills can also be enhanced by specific cognitive training, which applies especially for attention Tang and Posner,but also for working memory training Karbach and Verhaeghen, Importantly, both of these training approaches, physical exercise, and cognitive training, seem to be combined in elite sports, especially in interactive and combat sports.

Imagine a midfielder in a soccer game receiving a pass when facing his own goal. In the last seconds before the pass arrives, he is attentive and checks his shoulders twice to see if a defender is behind him and to spot open spaces.

When the pass arrives, he has to make a decision based on what is stored in his working memory under time pressure.


This example illustrates the cognitive demands in ball sports, which include perceptive and decisive skills. Raab emphasizes the importance of both bottom-up and top-down processes involved in these decisions.

Benefits in perceptual-cognitive skills at these high performance levels also seem to be feasible via representative tasks, such as video-based simulations Broadbent et al. Perceptual-cognitive skills in sports have traditionally been studied via the expert-performance approach using sports-related stimulation.

Here, expert-athletes, near-expert athletes, and novices are confronted with visual stimuli derived from the sports domain and asked to recognize game patterns or to anticipate the direction of strokes.

In a meta-analysis by Mann et al.

Cognitive skills in sports performance

However, this approach does not incorporate non-sport-specific stimulation and cannot characterize the transferability of the acquired skills to other domains. Yet there is some evidence that players of team sports have enhanced non-sports specific fundamental, cognitive skills which has been studied by the so-called cognitive-components approach.

In their meta-analysis, Voss et al. They summarized studies that used the cognitive-components approach to investigate the relationship between sports expertise and general cognitive skills. After subdividing cognitive skills into attentional cuing, processing speed and varied attention paradigms, the authors found mixed results, but identified compelling evidence that cognitive skills can be transferred from the sports-specific to the general context.

Sport type was found to be a moderator for the sport-cognition relationship, with interceptive sports e. It should be noted that the distinction between non-sport-specific and sport-specific cognitive skills can be blurred.

Cognitive skills in sports performance

For example, in an experiment by Romeas and Faubert where subjects were tested on their ability to perceive biological motion in a virtual environment, soccer players and non-athletes were asked to identify the direction of a point-light walker.

While perceiving biological motion is clearly not soccer-specific, it is essential for all interactive sports. Therefore, it is hard to draw a sharp line between sports-specific and non-sports-specific, when the transfer of cognitive skills is discussed.

There are several explanatory approaches for a positive transfer of sports on general cognitive skills; for example, it is generally known that increased aerobic capacity affects cognitive functioning Hillman et al. In addition, coordinative challenges in sports can also be assumed to positively transfer to cognitive skills Voelcker-Rehage et al.

A cognitive aspect of sports games i. In general, findings indicate that cognitive skills are not absolutely context-bound, and a cognitive skill transfer between different tasks can occur Perkins and Salomon, ; Willis et al.

Apart from the findings by Voss et al. In a cross-sectional study which compared senior high-division players to low-division players and a standardized norm group, high-division players showed better executive function compared to low-division players, who, in turn, outperformed the standardized norm group Vestberg et al.

A second part of the study showed a trend to predict future success measured by assists and goals by executive test performance.

Another soccer-related study investigated the executive functioning of highly talented and amateur youth soccer players Verburgh et al.

Highly talented players outperformed the amateur players in motor inhibition and in the ability to maintain attention. Similar results were found in a comparison of elite volleyball players and non-active controls in tests of executive control, memory, and visuospatial attention.Cognition in Sport In Action by Mick Clegg.

As most athletes want to learn what is necessary to do well cognitively in their sport, without going on a brain training course, I decided to open a few little windows for them in the athletic conditioning brain box division.

Cognitive abilities are the brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. Home; SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Key Cognitive Skills for Sports Performance – Brain Fitness For Life

Jason is the President of Axon Sports, the leading provider of cognitive assessment and training tools to professional, collegiate and elite amateur athletes. Patrick works with elite sport teams and human performance labs to develop simulated tasks that aim to assess and train key cognitive skills.

Patrick also conducts all data analysis. In , it became clear to me just how physical motor-skills and cognitive abilities are intertwined.

That year I published a study that related to the training performance of top pro teams in European Rugby, the NHL and the teams in the study used NeuroTracker for . From professional team sports players to extreme athletes, competitors require optimal training in cognitive performance to maintain the highest level of competitive play and athleticism.

Cognitive abilities are the brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. Home; SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Cognitive psychology in sport: Progress and prospects - ScienceDirect