Journal of Athletic Enhancement.ISSN: 2324-9080

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Does Sport-Specific Experience Affect Reaction Times in the Premotor Phase?

Objective: When reacting in a sport-specific situation, athletes use body movements as cues. For example, soccer players use lower body movements as cues, while volleyball players use upper body movements as cues. Despite differences in these focal points, both groups of players use specific cues to recognize sport-specific situations, based on sports-specific experience. This paper aims to investigate how sports-specific knowledge and experience affect reaction times associated with anticipation and prediction by comparing responses during simple and complex tasks performed by athletes with different backgrounds (soccer and volleyball).

Methods: Twenty-six collegiate male soccer players (20.0 ± 0.77 years) and twenty-one collegiate male volleyball players (19.8 ± 0.98 years) completed video-based single direction (SDRT) and multiple direction (MDRT) reactive agility test trials. Participants reacted to a soccer pass that was executed by the model in the video. Both groups completed a questionnaire about the reaction cue used. A two-factor mixed analysis of variance, with the withinfactor as “Tasks” (i.e., SDRT, MDRT) and the between-factor as “Sports” (i.e., Soccer, Volleyball), analyzed the main effects and interactions. The generalized η2 was used to compare the withinand between-factors, and Cohen’s d was used to compare the effect size between groups. For the questionnaire, a chi-square test of independence was used.

Results: The time from presentation of the stimulus to the time when the participant started to move was shorter in the simple task condition (i.e., SDRT; p<0.01), and for more experienced soccer players (p<0.01). The generalized η2 was larger in the betweenfactor “Sports” than the within-factor “Tasks.” The Cohen’s d between tasks was greater in the volleyball group than the soccer group. No significant differences in the questionnaire responses were found between sports groups.

Conclusion: These results suggest that sport-specific experience affects reaction times in the premotor phase.

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