Researchers from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Malaga (UMA) on Spain’s Costa del Sol have shown how computerised training -through specific software- can improve the attention span of athletes, particularly football players.
Based on a study carried out over nine weeks, with a total of 27 training sessions, the UMA team has confirmed the effectiveness of this type of computerised preparation in the development of the players’ selective attention.
“Athletes, especially in open sports such as football with large amounts of variability, learn patterns of play that they activate almost automatically when faced with a stimulus. However, in many moments of the game unexpected events happen to these learned patterns that require a creative decision,” explained Antonio Hernández Mendo, Professor of Social Psychology at UMA, the main author of this work which has been published in the scientific journal ‘Frontiers in Psychology’.
The expert says that it is precisely in the face of these unforeseen events that perceptive-attentional skills are essential for fast and effective information processing. Hernández Mendo has clarified that “the development of selective attention makes it possible to focus on specific unexpected stimuli and discard others at every moment of the game.”
The results of this study, which is part of a broader line of research that began about three years ago, prove that footballers who have better cognitive functioning show greater performance on the field.
Thus, these researchers, who belong to the group ‘Psychosocial Assessment in Natural Contexts: Sport and Consumption’ have designed a computer tool for attention training and, among their next steps, they are considering evaluating what type of specific training is most appropriate according to the sport and the position occupied by the player on the field.