Belling, Patrick K. and Ward, Paul (2014) Spatial ability predicts domain-specific recognition skill better than anticipation skill in recreational-level soccer players. In: 19th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, 2nd - 5th July 2014, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Unpublished)

Introduction Measures of domain-specific memory have been shown to be correlated with anticipation skill in sport (North et al., 2011). However, the cognitive processes supporting recognition appear to be simpler than those supporting anticipation (North et al., 2011) and may be underpinned by general cognitive abilities, especially in low-skilled performers (Ackerman, 1988). In this paper we hypothesized that domain-general ability would predict domain-specific recognition skill in soccer in a low-skilled sample but that anticipation skill would explain additional unique variance. Methods 58 recreational-level soccer players completed two domain-general tests (i.e., Mental Rotations Test [MRT-A], Peters, et al., 1995; Berlin Numeracy Test [BNT], Cokely et al., 2012), a test of anticipation skill (Online Assessment of Strategic Skill In Soccer [OASSIS], Belling, Suss, & Ward, 2014), and a soccer recognition test. Results The MRT-A (β = .42, p < .01) and BNT (β = .06, p = .67) predicted recognition skill (R2 = .20, F = 6.72, p < .01). However, the OASSIS did not explain more variance (R2 change = .01, F = .78, p = .38). Discussion Only spatial ability significantly predicted recognition performance suggesting that domain-general abilities may be more relevant than anticipation skill at this level. The data partially support Ackerman’s (1988) model—domain-general
ability predicted performance but a more central measure of general cognitive ability (i.e., BNT) did not, despite the complexity of the recognition task. Further research should explore the benefit of recognition versus anticipation training for improving perceptual skill.