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Soccer players actually do have it all

Soccer players are hot, talented and have a lot of money. And now, a new study shows that they are pretty smart too. This study shows that soccer players actually have “superior executive functions, the brain processes for responsible for planning and abstract thinking.” Apparently, the more the player is talented the better these functions are.

This ability is called game intelligence and it is used in the way we make decisions. The author of the new study is Predrag Petrovic, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The researchers measured these executive functions using a standardized test called D-KEFS. This assesses skills inproblem solving, creativity, and rule making. Talented players had a higher percentage of executive functions than regular players.

This study may not be very accurate but there is some promise here. I am sure future studies will be done. They don’t know if athletes obtain these functions over time or whether they are inherited.

The author of the study thinks it is both but they still need further evidence.I agree with him. I just thought it was really interesting because

I love soccer. And I always wondered how these players are so talented. There has got to be something in their brain that helps them decide who to pass the ball to or who to dribble in order to make a goal.

Who else loves this game?  Do you guys think that these functions are obtained over time or inherited? Or both?

And yes, Messi is one of the best players. He is also my favorite. And Pique.



  1. April 11, 2012 at 2:44 am

    As a soccer player here at GW who plays club and has played most of my life, I can readily attest to the fact that soccer players are some of the most fit athletes of all. Our coordination with our feet are some of the most tough skills to learn in any sport. A lot of the tricks we do take years to learn and master, and require a lot of focus with our mind. No matter how much you train or practice, there really are those players who just have a “knack” for it. Their brains move much faster to see the plays and make decisions than some, and when they combine that with their love of the game and the determination and training it takes, it makes some of the best players ever. I love Messi too- he’s awesome.

  2. April 11, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Yea soccer players are amazing in so many ways. And Messi is amazing hahaha. 🙂

  3. leimaf
    April 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Like any type of intelligence, the potential must be there to begin with but can not be induced without conditioning. This observation can be made by studying students who go through their whole schooling process together in uniform conditions but culminate with different levels of achievement just as well by observing the development of two soccer players who train together for a large span of time. Practice, coaching,teaching, and other variables can have a heavy influence on talent, but the ceiling of excellence is only broken by those with a innate heightened proclivity, or natural intelligence. I believe that the best athletes fall into this category and are comparable to great literary scholars and highly acclaimed scientists.

  4. anthonypribadi
    April 12, 2012 at 6:16 am

    My favorite player is also Messi at the moment. And I am quite involved in soccer in some ways except playing it (I only play indoor soccer, sometimes), so I know a little bit about soccer. And if those brilliant players, like Messi, are distinguished because of their special ability in decision making, I can’t disagree with that. Often times, when watching soccer games, you can see some players are more technically talented than the others. However, those special players are not necessarily the better soccer players, at least in my opinion.

    There are some players who are not as great, technically, but they are indispensable assets for their clubs. Easiest example that I can think of is Xabi Alonso. He was such a hero when he was playing for Liverpool even though he did not beat players or score as many goals as Messi does. His ability was in passing and controlling the tempo of the game, which are important in soccer. I watched an analysis some time ago about him and Liverpool and it was discovered that actually a lot of Liverpool goals (especially those from the counter attacks) originated from his long passes. However, he was kind of a hero in disguise. But when he left Liverpool, the team was suddenly in mess, as if they “have lost their machine” as Fernando Torres put it.

    And so, answering your questions, I think some players are more gifted than the others due to their physical postures. But knowledge of the game and wisdom to know when and how to pass the ball come through experience. However, I do recognize that some players are just more creative and have better visions in passing the ball. So, the wisest answer would be: BOTH. Great players are great because they are both talented and have invested a good amount of time practising it.

  5. avtheo
    April 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    This is interesting to think about and actually kind of logical. I am a big sports fan all around, hockey is actually my favorite sport and I always wondered how they did what the did so quickly. When I was younger, I wasn’t as coordinated as wanted to be and always believed that I just didn’t have something that the talented athletes in school had. Well, I believe that it does not only take natural talent to become a successful athlete, it also takes a lot of determination, perseverance and practice.
    Famous athletes like Messi don’t just get to the top without any work. So, I think talent and these athletic functions happen over time while being inherited as well. Nothing goes to show without hard work.

  6. April 18, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I must agree with this article, and about how sports intelligence do come into sports alot, and some basketball player such as Koby Bryant is famous for his shooting choice. Even in sports such as American football and even dodgeball require certain atheltic IQ to create a lead ahead the opponents other than physical.

    In case of Messi, his physical ability and his technique are simply amaing, but his intelligence effecetively calculates Messi to choose the best option score a goal. To answer to the authors question I believe that majority of the factor istraining and game experiences. I strongly believe this because certain position such as goal keeper requires intense game experience to give consistence performance through out the season. In fact, many people bvelieve that the prime time for the goal keeper is between 27 to 37. In fact, I do not know any world class goal keeper who is younger than the age of 26.

    Now, let us not forget that Messi has been playing with FC Barcelona’s first team since 2003, 9 years ago. While we were thinking about college and earth, Messi was all about the soccer ball.

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