Training in interactive sports

A systematic review of practice and transfer effects of perceptual–cognitive training

Training in interaktiven Sportarten

Ein systematisches Review von Übungs- und Transfereffekten perzeptiv-kognitiven Trainings

Abstract

The general purpose of this systematic review was to study the effectiveness of off-court perceptual–cognitive training interventions in nonnovice, interactive sport athletes. We looked at task-specific practice effects and, more importantly, the transfer of effects. Databases used for the literature search were PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO. In all, 16 studies were found to be eligible for this review. These studies were independently evaluated by four reviewers for methodological quality and their evidence for specific practice effects and transfer effects. The effectiveness was analyzed with respect to the level of transfer, i. e., from training-task-specific effects to near-transfer (e. g., a similar perceptual task), further-transfer (e. g., a sensorimotor sports skill), and far-transfer (e. g., competition performance) intervention effects. Analyses of the 16 included studies suggest that around 60% of the training-specific measures tested after off-court practicing perceptual–cognitive training in sports athletes signal performance enhancement. However, transfer, be it near, further or far, is mostly not studied empirically; if studied, there is currently only limited and weak evidence for intermediate and far transfer. To reason that perceptual–cognitive off-court training interventions are ineffective might be premature at this point of time as methodological quality can still be improved and only a very limited number of studies actually included transfer variables. In those few studies integrating transfer variables, results are mixed and inconsistent. Future work should focus on critical factors to assure transfer of perceptual–cognitive training interventions.

Zusammenfassung

Zweck dieses systematischen Reviews war die Untersuchung der Effektivität von off-court perzeptiv-kognitiven Trainingsinterventionen bei fortgeschrittenen Sportlern in interaktiven Sportarten. Wir betrachteten aufgabenspezifische Übungseffekte und insbesondere den Transfer von Effekten. Die Datenbanken PubMed, Web of Science und PsycINFO wurden für die Literaturrecherche verwendet. Insgesamt 16 Studien wurden gefunden, die sich für dieses Review eigneten. Diese Studien wurden von vier unabhängigen Gutachtern bezüglich ihrer methodologischen Qualität und ihrer Evidenz für spezifische Übungseffekte und Transfereffekte beurteilt. Die Analyse der Effektivität erfolgte mit Bezug auf die Transferebene, d. h. von trainingsaufgabenspezifischen Effekten bis hin zu Interventionseffekten mit nahem Transfer (z. B. eine ähnliche Wahrnehmungsaufgabe), mittlerem Transfer (z. B. eine sensomotorische sportliche Fähigkeit) und weitem Transfer (z. B. Wettkampfleistung). Die Analysen der 16 eingeschlossenen Studien zeigen, dass rund 60% der trainingsspezifischen Maßnahmen, die nach einem off-court perzeptiv-kognitiven Training bei Sportlern untersucht wurden, auf eine Leistungsverbesserung hindeuten. Jedoch ist der Transfer – sei er nah, mittel oder weit – meist nicht empirisch untersucht; wenn er untersucht wurde, so existiert derzeit nur limitierte und schwache Evidenz für mittleren und weiten Transfer. Das Argument, off-court perzeptiv-kognitive Trainingsinterventionen seien unwirksam, könnte zu diesem Zeitpunkt voreilig sein, da die methodologische Qualität immer noch verbessert werden kann und nur wenige Studien Transfervariablen eingeschlossen haben. Die Ergebnisse der wenigen Studien, die Transfervariablen eingeschlossen haben, sind gemischt und inkonsistent. Zukünftige Arbeiten sollten sich auf bestimmte kritische Faktoren konzentrieren, um den Transfer von perzeptiv-kognitiven Trainingsinterventionen zu sichern.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Axel Kohler for English editing services. We cordially acknowledge our research assistant Stefan Vinbrüx for acting as the fourth reviewer and supporting the composition of figures 3–6 (overview of included studies).

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Correspondence to Karen Zentgraf.

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K. Zentgraf, H. Heppe and M.-T. Fleddermann declare that they have no competing interests.

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Zentgraf, K., Heppe, H. & Fleddermann, M. Training in interactive sports. Ger J Exerc Sport Res 47, 2–14 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12662-017-0441-8

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Keywords

  • Perceptual-cognitive training
  • Training intervention
  • Sport athletes
  • Transfer
  • Practice

Schlüsselwörter

  • Perzeptiv-kognitives Training
  • Trainingsintervention
  • Sportler
  • Transfer
  • Übung