Predicting performance in sport using a portable cognitive assessment device
Allen, Seth Robert
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Cognitive processing abilities play a vital role in sport performance, and in order to perform at the highest possible level, athletes must be at optimal states of cognitive readiness to compete at the outset of competition. Therefore, athletes may benefit from using a valid and reliable assessment tool that could identify generalized cognitive deficits prior to sport competitions that may be present due to psychological or external stressors. Corrective action could then be taken to counter deficits if they are detected. The quantitative portion of the present study used a single-participant design to assess the predictive ability of a portable cognitive assessment device known as the MiniCog (Shephard & Kosslyn, 2003) on various aspects of performance in sport. Seven participants competing and/or training in five sports were used to determine if performance on the MiniCog test battery would correlate with performance in sport. The primary hypothesis was that sport performance would improve as performance on the MiniCog test battery improved. No consistent trends of support were found in the data, as the seven participants produced correlations of various strength and direction between the MiniCog Rapid Assessment Battery (MRAB) and sport performance. The MiniCog device did not appear to be an accurate predictor of sport performance for the participants in this project, but due to some trends that were seen in the data, the possibility that it could be useful under different conditions or with additional participants cannot be discounted at this time. The qualitative exploration revealed that the five participants who used the MiniCog device prior to athletic events throughout their competitive season suggested that use of the MiniCog appeared to affect their focus, confidence, and anxiety levels in both facilitative and debilitative ways. Also, excessive external distractions, time constraints, and focus on the pending athletic event limited the participants' capacity to implement the MiniCog device into their precompetitive routines successfully. The results from this portion of the project yielded useful recommendations for athletes and their coaches or sport psychologists concerning the feasibility of utilizing a portable assessment device in applied settings.
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