Modelling age-related changes in executive functions of soccer players

05/04/2021 ∙ by Vincent Chin, et al. ∙ 0

The widespread popularity of soccer across the globe has turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry. As a result, most professional clubs actively engage in talent identification and development programmes. Contemporary research has generally supported the use of executive functions - a class of neuropsychological processes responsible for cognitive behaviours - in predicting a soccer player's future success. However, studies on the developmental evolution of executive functions have yielded differing results in their structural form (such as inverted U-shapes, or otherwise). This article presents the first analysis of changes in the domain-generic and domain-specific executive functions based on longitudinal data measured on elite German soccer players. Results obtained from a latent variable model show that these executive functions experience noticeable growth from late childhood until pre-adolescence, but remain fairly stable in later growth stages. As a consequence, our results suggest that the role of executive functions in facilitating talent identification may have been overly emphasised.

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