A Longitudinal Analysis of the Executive Functions in High-Level Soccer Players

TitelA Longitudinal Analysis of the Executive Functions in High-Level Soccer Players
MedientypJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AutorenBeavan A, Chin V, Ryan LM, Spielmann J, Mayer J, Skorski S, Meyer T, Fransen J
JournalJ Sport Exerc Psychol
Date Published07/2020

Introduction: Assessments of executive functions (EFs) with varying levels of perceptual information or action fidelity are common talent-diagnostic tools in soccer, yet their validity still has to be established. Therefore, a longitudinal development of EFs in high-level players to understand their relationship with increased exposure to training is required.

Methods: A total of 304 high-performing male youth soccer players (10-21 years old) in Germany were assessed across three seasons on various sport-specific and non-sport-specific cognitive functioning assessments.

Results: The posterior means (90% highest posterior density) of random slopes indicated that both abilities predominantly developed between 10 and 15 years of age. A plateau was apparent for domain-specific abilities during adolescence, whereas domain-generic abilities improved into young adulthood.

Conclusion: The developmental trajectories of soccer players' EFs follow the general populations' despite long-term exposure to soccer-specific training and game play. This brings into question the relationship between high-level experience and EFs and renders including EFs in talent identification questionable.

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