Visual-motor expertise in athletes: Insights from semiparametric modelling of 2317 athletes tested on the Nike SPARQ Sensory Station.
Elite athletes not only run faster, hit harder, and jump higher, but also see and react better. However, the specific visual-motor skills that differentiate high-achieving athletes are still not well understood. In this paper we examine 2317 athletes (1871 male) tested on the Nike SPARQ Sensory Station, a digital test battery measuring visual, perceptual and motor skills relevant for sports performance. We develop a multivariate Gaussian transformation model to robustly estimate visual-motor differences by level, gender, and sport type. Results demonstrate that visual-motor performance is superior for athletes at higher levels, with males faster at near-far eye movements and females faster at eye-hand reaction times. Interestingly, athletes who play interceptive sports such as baseball and tennis exhibit better measures of visual clarity, contrast sensitivity and simple reaction time, while athletes from strategic sports like soccer and basketball have higher measures of spatial working memory. These findings provide quantitative evidence of domain-specific visual expertise in athletes.
Burris, K; Liu, S; Appelbaum, L
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