Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Level of play and coach-rated game intelligence are related to performance on design fluency in elite soccer players

Citation

Petrovic, Predrag et al. (2020), Level of play and coach-rated game intelligence are related to performance on design fluency in elite soccer players, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7wm37pvqg

Abstract

Executive brain functions are innate mechanisms for regulating behavior. While the impact of suboptimal executive functions has been characterized in patients, their contribution to individual success has not been elucidated. We set out to understand how executive functions relate to successful human behavior by examining their relation to game intelligence in sport - the ability to read a game and quickly adapt the behavior. In elite soccer players (n = 51), those playing in national teams (national team players) significantly outperformed those only playing at premier league level (premier league players) in Design Fluency (DF), a complex visuo-spatial executive function test that includes measures of creativity and cognitive flexibility. Their result showed a moderate correlation with coach rated game intelligence, also when correcting for low level cognitive capacity and was most evident when considering cognitive flexibility. DF capacity also correlated with number of assists made during the season but not with number of made goals during the same period, linking the fast planning of several steps in DF to fast planning of several steps in the soccer game. Altogether, our data suggests that DF capacity relates to success in soccer both on a subjective and on an objective level.