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Strategies for athletic cognition

Strategies for athletic cognition

Stategies With An Autoimmune Disorder May 20, Quick and Refreshing Snacks Comments. In any case, training Strategies for athletic cognition athletiic in a higher level of cognition when compared to baseline. Google Scholar Schleser, R. In sports, athletes must selectively attend to the most important cues in the environment, such as the position of the ball, the movement of opponents, and the position of teammates.

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Additionally, the CT field has struggled in general from high levels of methodological heterogeneity amongst studies, a poor ability to define improvement in a functional capacity, and small sample sizes Walton et al. In the current context, it is also worth noting that CT has predominantly shown most promise in populations characterized by deficits in cognition, in that it has primarily been used to raise what may have previously decreased, or reduce further losses.

As illustrated above, elite athletes may actually have superior functioning within specific domains, and thus it is currently unknown whether CT can enhance cognitive performance in this sample. Anecdotal evidence suggests that exercises which resemble CT are already being implemented in sports environments.

Indeed, there are many companies now selling software aimed to deliver this very product e. As researchers and advocates of CT, it is encouraging to see the enthusiastic uptake of the technology in new settings. The early stages of CT research more generally were once in a similar state, however, the field now sees hundreds of publications per year Walton et al.

This must change before these interventions are to be wholeheartedly endorsed and promoted. Harris et al. These authors found only one study Romeas et al. This study employed 3-dimensional multiple object tracking 3D-MOT , a task which challenges users to keep track of multiple moving objects in a dynamic and changing visual field.

Intuitively, this skill has implications for sports performance where athletes must be able to accurately process, for example, multiple teammates, the opposition, obstacles and targets all at once.

Athletes have been shown to excel in this task, with Faubert showing that professional athletes across multiple sports have a higher baseline ability to perform this task, but also faster learning curves than non-elite athletes, and non-athletes. Romeas et al. The experimental group trained twice weekly for 5 weeks, while the active control watched 3D soccer videos accompanied by short interviews based on decision making, thus reinforcing the expectation of training benefit to the athletes.

There were not improvements in shooting or passing accuracy, which again reflects the potential constraints on transferring of CT benefits to related-but-different tasks.

There were limitations to this work, not least that the intervention group only included seven athletes two dropped out. It must also be acknowledged that this study was conducted by researchers who are, ostensibly, heavily invested in the tool; providing further evidence that navigating the realm of combining scientifically rigorous studies with financially lucrative tools will be inherently difficult Rabipour and Raz, ; Simons et al.

This potential conflict-of-interest has previously been a common criticism of CT, where some companies who have enormous financial incentives to show positive results have been involved in the research studies which seek to objectively determine efficacy.

Separately, and not reviewed by Harris et al. Twenty-nine lacrosse players were split into two groups, either conducting Stimulus-Response Compatibility Training, or an active control. Additionally, though there was a significant difference between groups at post-test, the treatment group did not show a significant improvement from baseline.

It is also worth noting that the treatment group performed the cognitive task less accurately at follow up, and significantly worse than the control group following training. Therefore, while this study is interesting and has some well-designed elements, we cannot obtain a full picture of the training efficacy and theoretical underpinnings for the improvements found in this work.

The work of Romeas et al. However, given the known difficulty of achieving far transfer following CT, it is surprising that the only known studies have both provided positive effects. Replication is required before such results can be relied upon, and of particular importance, publication of null results in similar studies is encouraged so as to minimize creating a biased literature.

Of note, there are studies which have examined other techniques of training which also incorporate some cognitive-perceptual ability see review by Hadlow et al.

By contrast, these studies have been more focused around aspects including: a video-based training that is highly specific to the outcome e. While this work is very interesting and likely has great potential for investigating the role of cognition in increasing performance, we do not consider this to be CT per se, but rather an alternative method of sport-specific practice that involves computerized tools.

By definition, CT should target specific cognitive functions that are not simply reflective of the desired outcome. Given this, when discussing CT for sport, we are specifically interested in the act of improving core cognitive processes which in turn fundamentally underlie sports performance.

One of the most complex aspects in applying cognitive enhancement to athletes is how to best determine efficacy. This problem is not specific to the sporting context, however, and is an issue mirrored in other cohorts. For example, though CT shows relatively consistent improvements in cognitive performance during testing in older adults, the effects on activities of daily living or the likelihood of subsequent dementia development are not well established, despite these arguably being the more important outcomes Jones, In athletes, an improvement in post-CT neuropsychological testing is interesting, but not a practically meaningful result for athlete or coach.

What is needed is evidence that the intervention has lifted the level of performance relevant to the sport in question and beyond a practically meaningful threshold.

Given that a noted criticism of CT is the current lack of consistent evidence for far-transfer, extra care must be given to how efficacy following CT is measured, as this absence of far transfer could be a result of insensitive testing as opposed to ineffective training.

In this section we will briefly discuss this issue. Unfortunately, accurately determining an immediate follow-up outcome is difficult. Sport is highly variable with many unique and interrelated contributors to performance e.

Furthermore, simply finding objective indices of sporting performance — particularly in interactive sports and team sports — is famously problematic. Assessing changes in more prolonged timescales, such as season performance Vestberg et al.

Assessing performance in more controlled sporting environments is one way to get around the problems posed by measuring sporting performance [i. In these tests, specific sporting skills — which rely on more cognitive aspects such as decision-making, game-based working memory, and reaction time — can be assessed by scorers who are blinded to the condition athletes received Smith et al.

Another way of simplifying the complex problem could be combining physical and cognitive measures into hybrid tests, potentially using a virtual reality VR environment. For example, to test reaction time, current computerized neuropsychological testing may ask the subject to press a key as quickly as possible upon seeing a specific stimulus.

An on-field measure of reaction time could be the time it takes to initiate movement after seeing an object e. In a VR environment, reaction time could be tested by asking the athlete to catch a moving object and measuring both the initial movement and overall time lapsed.

Unlike the on-field example, here the speed, location and trajectory of the object can be controlled, and unlike the neuropsychological example this is sport-specific. This illustrates the innovative potential of VR in validly assessing post-training changes, and also the potential for a new holistic approach of training and testing paradigms for athletes.

However, as discussed by Miles et al. As researchers with varied experience in CT across different cohorts, in addition to working with athletes in elite settings, we hope to be able to give some suggestion on some of the elements CT research should strive for.

Table 1 highlights some important considerations moving forward. We note that these are in many way personal reflections, given that we currently do not have the evidence base to accurately determine what is appropriate in a sports context Harris et al.

Figure 1A illustrates an example CT design that may be of interest to researchers hoping to undertake CT interventions in athletes. Based on work from Lampit et al. Training below these recommendations may prove to be ineffective due to insufficient time for synaptic plasticity to occur, whilst overtraining could be ineffective due to fatigue or disengagement.

Figure 1B based on data from Lampit et al. However, these two figures are hypotheses based on original and meta-analytical findings and cannot truly be known in a sports-specific population until more studies have been conducted.

FIGURE 1. A Example RCT design to asses CT for athletes. Brief outline of the preferable characteristics of the training and control groups, duration and frequency of the intervention and the types of assessments that should be administered. B Assumed therapeutic effect of CT overtime.

Training gray initially produces rapid gains during the loading phase, which then begin to plateau during the peak-fining phase. Once training is ceased white , during the decay phase, gains decay rapidly and then gradually over time.

However, if a maintenance phase comprising of booster sessions is implemented during the decay phase, then gains may be durable over a longer period of time. In any case, training will result in a higher level of cognition when compared to baseline.

Image adapted from Figure 3 in Lampit et al. There is currently an ongoing debate as to the scientific merit of employing active control groups over passive control groups in the wider literature.

Nevertheless, evidence exists that variables other than the CT intervention, most notably expectations bias, can significantly influence post-training performance Foroughi et al. Given the infancy of the field as applied to sport, we suggest the use of active control groups is crucial.

While matching the time that intervention groups spend dedicated to CT, in addition to any expectancy effects, sports cohorts provide an additional element.

Given that athletes dedicate significant amounts of time to structured training, it is possible that those involved in a CT research study may spend less time on regular physical training, and that time must also be matched in the active control group to avoid influencing the outcome of performance.

To promote a transfer between physical and CT, a novel approach to CT could be to conduct it within a VR environment, however, a high level of caution is required to be clear that any improved performance is not simply reflective of practice effects.

This reflects another novel use of CT in athletes, which is to not just improve cognition underlying performance, but additionally, to improve cognitive performance under specific physical demands. Recent changes to gamification of CT have been instrumental to improving engagement of these training programs.

Lumsden et al. However, methodological concerns with only a small body of work mean any conclusions are tentative. Nevertheless, CT in athletes could potentially be most useful when gamification principles are employed to maximize motivation, perhaps via aspects such as training exercises being sport-related and implementing competitive aspects.

As discussed, ideal outcomes are undefined as of yet, and we propose multiple measures may be best including athlete and blinded-coach assessment, cognitive testing, a controlled sports-specific assessment as discussed and neuroimaging where resources allow. The sustainability of effects in CT is also not well understood Lampit et al.

Where feasible, follow-up testing could provide valuable information on the maintenance of improvement. Given the link between cognition and sporting ability, there is a clear rationale for further investigating whether CT could benefit athletes.

However, the current evidence-base means that we cannot know whether this tool is effective, and given the difficulties achieving far transfer in other cohorts, we caution around investing too heavily in such methods at this point in time.

We do, however, recognize there is merit to investigating further, and research that would develop this understanding will require the assistance of coaching staff and athletes to establish high quality studies, with the ultimate aim of better understanding how these methods could help athletes maximize every potential for their performance.

CW and HH conceptualized the manuscript. CW prepared the original draft. All authors edited and gave final approval for publication and were accountable for this work. HH is funded by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF for industry collaborations in the field of cognitive rehabilitation for a project unrelated to this study.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

We acknowledge support from the German Research Foundation DFG and the Open Access Publication Fund of Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Ahn, R. Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study.

BMJ i doi: PubMed Abstract CrossRef Full Text Google Scholar. Farahani, J. Effectiveness of above real-time training on decision-making in elite football: a dose-response investigation. Brain Res. Faubert, J. Professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes.

Fery, Y. Enhancing the control of force in putting by video game training. Ergonomics 44, — Foroughi, C. Placebo effects in cognitive training. George, D. Marketplace of memory: what the brain fitness technology industry says about us and how we can do better.

Gerontologist 51, — Hadlow, S. Modified perceptual training in sport: a new classification framework. Sport doi: Hallock, H. Cognitive training for post-acute traumatic brain injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Harris, D. Athletics and a cognitive-behavioral approach seem to share some common terminology, such as goals, practice, strategy, skill, evaluation and feedback. Therefore, a CBT approach is particularly helpful to athletes who may need more traditional clinical support, but who are wary of appearing weak or think they are giving up control to a therapist or therapeutic process.

Each day millions of Americans engage in some form of competition, training, or physical exercise. Such popularity and the value our culture places on competition have made sport a valid area of psychological inquiry.

Within the cognitive behavioral model, sport psychology and, specifically, athletic performance enhancement have experienced vigorous growth over the past two decades. Behavior change strategies familiar to most cognitive behaviorists form the core of virtually all athletic performance enhancement interventions.

Goal setting, imagery or mental rehearsal, relaxation training, stress management, self-monitoring, self-instruction, cognitive restructuring, and modeling interventions dominate this literature…. Join our mailing list to receive 10 free tips to improve your mental game!

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Cognitive Behavioral Strategies in Athletic Performance Enhancement.

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