Position-Specific Attentional Skills in Team Sports: A Comparison between Defensive and Offensive Football Players

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Over the last few decades, technical as well as cognitive skills and their relation to position-specific skill requirements have been extensively investigated as indicators for players’ performance in team sports. To explore the impact of positioning in football on inattentional blindness we employed dynamic tasks that presented an unexpected object and analyzed its noticing rates in three different experiments. In Experiment 1, amateur and expert football players performed a well-established inattentional blindness task of counting the number of times a basketball was passed between two groups while an unexpected, non-sport specific object was introduced to the situation. Noticing rates were higher for strikers compared to players of other playing positions. The findings support a position-specific advantage regarding inattentional blindness for more offensive players compared to more defensive players. Using the same inattentional blindness task, this finding was investigated in Experiment 2 in more detail, i.e., by differentiating between more playing positions. Results revealed that offensive players (in particular strikers) observed unexpected objects more frequently than defensive players. Experiment 3 used a newly developed football-specific task requiring participants to find solutions in different game situations with an unexpected free-standing player appearing in one of these situations. Defensive players again showed more inattentional blindness than offensive players (in particular offensive mid-fielders), i.e., offensive players perceived the unmarked player more often. This indicates that players not only differ in the conscious perception of unexpected objects that are irrelevant to the sport as a function of their playing position, but also show differences when the perception of the unexpected relevant object is useful for finding tactical solutions in a given game situation. Our findings provide further insight into the importance of the definition of position-specific skill requirements in team sports.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5896
JournalApplied Sciences
Volume11
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
ISSN2076-3417
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25.06.2021

ID: 6177374

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