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Executive Function Expertise in Sport: A Meta-Analytic Review

Hagyard, Jack (2019) Executive Function Expertise in Sport: A Meta-Analytic Review. Masters thesis, York St John University.

Text (MSc by Research thesis)
HAGYARD JACK FINAL THESIS.pdf - Published Version
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The previous decade has seen a significant growth in the number of studies investigating the executive function-athletic expertise relationship. Yet the influence of executive function on expertise level requires clarification due to heterogenous results, varied methodologies, and uncertainty regarding the transferability of sport-specific skills into the standardised cognitive domain. Objective: We addressed this by meta-analysing the relationship between executive function and athletic expertise and investigated if specific executive function constructs have differential relationships with athletic expertise. We also tested whether there are expert-novice differences in specific elements of cognitive performance (i.e. cognitive efficiency and cognitive effectiveness). Method: Our literature search yielded 31 studies (N = 2133) composed of non-, amateur-, and elite-athletes from various sport types and age groups (age ranged from 14.16 to 28.80 years). Results: Meta-analysis using random effects models revealed overall executive function, executive function efficiency, executive function effectiveness, cognitive flexibility, cognitive flexibility efficiency, working memory, working memory efficiency, working memory effectiveness, problem solving, problem solving efficiency, decision-making, decision-making efficiency, and decision-making effectiveness displayed small or moderate positive associations with athletic expertise. Subsequent moderation analyses revealed that these relationships can be influenced by sample characteristics (i.e. age and gender) and operational measures of executive function. Conclusions: Results provide further support for the notion that athletes of greater expertise possess superior executive function abilities that potentially aid sports performance. Elite athletes are able to perform standardised cognitive tasks with greater efficiency and effectiveness which then transfer into the sports domain. The present findings also highlight the necessity to implement multi-measure approaches when investigating executive function in future research due to the idiosyncrasies of individual measures.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Status: Published
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4478

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