Elite soccer players have superior executive functions relative to non-players, and there is a significant correlation between their cognitive function and number of goals and assists, according to a new study published Apr. 4 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers, led by Predrag Petrovic of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, measured general executive functions, including creativity and cognitive flexibility, in male and female soccer players and non-players. They found that the soccer players performed better than the non-players, and furthermore, the higher level players performed better than the lower division athletes. These results emphasize the importance of cognitive functions, in addition to physical skill, for achieving the highest level of athletic performance.
"The study cannot answer the question whether the difference in executive functions mirrors practice or genes. There is probably both an inherited component and a component that is trained" say the authors.
Citation: Vestberg T, Gustafson R, Maurex L, Ingvar M, Petrovic P (2012) Executive Functions Predict the Success of Top-Soccer Players. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34731.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034731
Financial Disclosure: The authors have no support or funding to report.
Competing Interest: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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