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Psychological testing may predict success in soccer
Date:4/5/2012

Measuring what are known as executive functions, which reflect the cognitive ability to deal with sudden problems, may make it possible to predict how good an elite soccer player will become in the future. This has been shown by a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Scientists believe for the first time that they have found the scientific key to what has previously been described as 'game intelligence' in successful soccer players.

It has long been known that physical ability and ball sense are not enough to become really good at soccer (European football). A third vital component has often been mentioned: game intelligence, which is the ability to 'read' the play, to be always in the right place at the right time, and steal goals. Many people have regarded game intelligence to be almost a magical ability, something that is impossible to measure.

The scientists at Karolinska Institutet, however, claim that game intelligence is hardly mystical, and that it can be understood from a scientific perspective. It is, rather, an example of something that cognitive scientists call executive functions, which encompass the ability to be immediately creative, to be able to see new solutions to problems, to change tactics rapidly and to revise previous behaviour that has proved not to work.

"Our brains have specific systems that process information in just this manner, and we have validated methods within cognitive research to measure how well the executive functions work in an individual," says Dr Predrag Petrovic, who has led the research at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of Karolinska Institutet.

Predrag Petrovic and his colleagues report in one study, to be published in the on-line scientific journal PLoS ONE, tests of certain executive functions in soccer players in Allsvenskan (the highest Swedish league) and in Division 1 (the league under Allsvenskan), a total of 57 elite soccer players. The scienti
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Contact: Katarina Sternudd
katarina.sternudd@ki.se
46-852-483-895
Karolinska Institutet
Source:Eurekalert

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