Gabriel J. Pruna, William P. McCormack, Tyler C. Scanlon, Adam J. Wells, Kyle S. Beyer, Adam R. Jajtner, Jeremy R. Townsend, Maren S. Fragala, Jay R. Hoffman, FACSM, Jeffrey R. Stout, FACSM Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL ABSTRACT A soccer player’s ability to quickly react following the processing and integration of task-relevant cues may be a key determinant of on-field success. Perceptual cognitive function evaluates an athlete’s situational awareness. However, it is unknown how perceptual cognitive function relates to reaction time in collegiate female soccer players. PURPOSE: To examine the relationship between perceptual cognitive function (CF) and visuomotor reaction time of the upper (RTU) and lower extremities (RTL). METHODS: Thirty female NCAA division I soccer players (19.4 ± 1.1 y; 1.71 ± .07 m; 64.8 ± 7.1 kg) participated in a preseason performance assessment. CF was assessed as a threshold speed using a multiple object tracking device within a three-dimensional environment where a higher threshold speed indicates higher CF. RTU was assessed using a visuomotor training device. Fastest times for visual (V) and motor (M) reaction time were scored. RTL was assessed as number of successful foot strikes to visual stimuli during a 20-s lower body reaction test. Pearson product moment coefficients were computed to assess the relationship between CF, V, M, and RTL. RESULTS: Inverse correlations were found between CF and V (r= -0.398, p= 0.029) and CF and M (r= 0.413, p= 0.023) in RTU indicating the greater the CF threshold, the faster the reaction time. A positive correlation was found between CF and RTL hits (r= 0.390, p= 0.037) indicating the greater the CF threshold, the higher the score in the RTL. CONCLUSION: Results indicate that cognitive function is positively correlated with faster upper and lower body reaction time in female collegiate soccer players. Thus, athletes with higher cognitive function may also have faster reaction times that translate to increased performance on the field. An athlete’s ability to more quickly process information and react to it may provide a competitive advantage against opponents. INTRODUCTION Hand-eye and hand-foot coordination are very different for a soccer player and a non-athlete; a soccer player being more adept . Perceptual cognitive function evaluates an athlete’s situational awareness . During the course of a soccer game, there are many cues a player must adhere to. Reaction time is one of those elements. A player has many objects to track as well like the ball, the opposing players and even the referees. This leads to the use of their cognitive function skills. However, it is unknown how perceptual cognitive function relates to reaction time in collegiate female soccer players. To our knowledge, there has not been any previous research on the relationship between cognitive function and reaction time in female collegiate soccer players. METHODS (CONT.) Subjects Thirty female NCAA division I soccer players (19.4 ± 1.1 y; 1.71 ± .07 m; 64.8 ± 7.1 kg) participated in a preseason performance assessment. All subjects came in to the UCF Human Performance Lab for the cognitive function and visuomotor tests. The order of testing was Dynavision, Quick Board then the NeuroTracker. Dynavision The Dynavision is a light board containing 64 lights placed in five concentric circles. One of the lights illuminates and the athlete will place their dominant hand on the light. The reaction test consisted of using five horizontal lights to the left of the center ring. Upon start of the test, any of the five lights will illuminate and the subject has to move the hand from the starting position, hit the illuminated light, and then return to the starting position. The full reaction test consisted of 10 trials. The time it takes for the athlete to take their hand off the first light is considered the visual reaction time. The time it takes for the athlete to hit the other light is considered the motor reaction time. Quick Board The Quick Board is a reaction time test using the lower extremities. The Quick Board consists of a touch board on the floor with five yellow dots. A light display with dots that correspond to the touch board is positioned at eye level in front of the athlete. The test is 20 seconds in duration and the athlete has to touch the yellow dot with their feet that corresponds to the light on the display. The score (hits) is the number touched over the 20 seconds. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between preseason perceptual cognitive function (CF) and visuomotor reaction time of the upper (RTU) and lower extremities (RTL) in female collegiate soccer players. Representative image of the NeuroTracker cognitive function test. Preseason Test Results • Results show that the higher the cognitive function test, the faster the reaction time in the athletes. Even though the slowest and average times did not differ, the fastest times in both the visual and motor reaction times were lower. • The higher the score in the cognitive function test, the higher the results in the reaction test of the lower extremities. • The correlation between cognitive function and reaction time could be explained in part by the multiple tracking skills help improve being able to react to only one object. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Image of the Quick Board reaction test. Light display (top). Touch board (bottom). NeuroTracker This is a three-dimensional cognitive function test. The test consists of twenty, eight second trials. PURPOSE If all four balls were picked correctly, then the speed of the balls increases the next trial. If picked incorrectly, then the speeds of the balls will slow down during the next trial. At the end of the twenty trials, the soccer player receives a unitless threshold speed score. Statistical Analysis Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to analyze the values taken from the baseline testing. SPSS was used for all data analysis. An alpha level of p ≤ 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance. There was a significant inverse correlation between the NeuroTracker Threshold (NT) and fastest visual reaction time (V) (r= -0.398, p= 0.029, p≤ 0.05). This means that the higher the threshold, the faster the visual reaction time (Figure 1). There was a significant inverse correlation (r= -0.413, p= 0.023, p≤ 0.05) which means the higher the NT, reduced M was shown (Figure 2). A significant positive correlation was found between NT and Quick Board Hits (QB) (r= 0.390, p= 0.037, p≤ 0.05). The higher the NT, the more QB hits value increased (Figure 3). Image of the Dynavision reaction test light board. RESULTS (CONT.) The soccer player is seated seven feet away from the screen. Eight yellow balls will appear on the screen. Four of the balls will change to white for two seconds. The balls return to yellow and they begin to move. These white balls are the four objects that the subject will track. Once all of the balls stop, numbers 1 through 8 will appear on the balls. The soccer player reports the numbers for the balls that were tracked. If the correlations relate to on field success, then cognitive function training could give a soccer player a competitive advantage during the course of a game. If a player were to train regularly on the NeuroTracker as well as the normal resistance training program, their reaction time could be improved. This could lead to an advantage on the field because the reaction time to the ball or opponents would give them an edge. REFERENCES 1. Montes-Mico R, Bueno I, Candel J, Pons AM. Eye-hand and eye-foot visual reaction times of young soccer players. Europe PubMed Central. 2000. 71(12): 775-780. 2. Ward P and Williams AM. Perceptual and Cognitive Skill Development in Soccer: The Multidimensional Nature of Expert Performance. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. 2003. 25: 93-111.