Relationship between cognitive functions and sport-specific physical performance in youth volleyball players

Athos Trecroci, Marco Duca, Luca Cavaggioni, Alessio Rossi, Raffaele Scurati, Stefano Longo, Giampiero Merati, Giampietro Alberti, Damiano Formenti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between basic cognitive functions and sport-specific physical performance in young volleyball players. Forty-three female volleyball players (age 11.2 ± 0.8 years) were tested for cognitive performance by measuring simple reaction time (clinical reaction time), executive control (Flanker task), and perceptual speed (visual search task). Moreover, a set of tests was used to assess physical abilities as volleyball-specific skills (accuracy of setting, passing, and serving) and motor skills (change of direction, vertical jump, and balance). A cumulated value for both cognitive and sport-specific physical performance tests was computed by adding up each test’s domain outcomes. Pearson’s r correlation analysis showed a large positive correlation (r = 0.45, d-value = 1.01) of the cumulated score summarizing cognitive functions with the cumulated score summarizing sport-specific physical performance. Moreover, small-to-medium correlations (d-value from 0.63 to 0.73) were found between cognitive and motor skills. Given the cumulative scores, these results suggest that volleyball athletes with superior basic cognitive functions present better sport-specific physical performance. Our findings encourage to extend the knowledge of the associations between cognitive and motor skills within a sports performance context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number227
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Cognition
  • Executive functions
  • Motor skills
  • Sport-specific skills
  • Team sports
  • Young athletes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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