Examining non-sport-related cognitive tasks of attention and executive control in skilled athletes may provide insight into the acquisition of highly specific skills developed in experts as well as help identify successful performance in sport. This study examined performance on aspects of attention and executive control among varsity athletes playing strategic or static sports using a computerized test of attention and executive control. Ninety-seven university athletes participating in soccer (n = 50; strategic sport) or track and field (n = 47; static sport) were included in the study. Domains of attention and executive control were examined using the Attention Network Test-Interactions (ANT-I). Mean reaction time (RT) and intra-individual variability (IIV) were compared between groups. Soccer players demonstrated overall faster RTs (p = 0.0499; ?p2 = .04) and higher response accuracy (p = .021, d = .48) on the ANT-I compared to track and field athletes. Faster RTs were observed for soccer players when presented with an alerting tone (p = .029, d = .45), valid orienting cue (p = .019, d = .49) and incongruent flanker (p = .031, d = .45). No significant group differences were observed in IIV (p = .083, d = .36). Athletes engaging in strategic sports (i.e., soccer) demonstrated faster performance under test conditions that required higher vigilance and conflict resolution. These findings suggest that engagement in strategic sports is associated with enhanced performance on non-sport-related cognitive tasks of attention and executive control.
Keywords: alerting, orienting, attention, executive control, strategic sports, static sports, varsity athletes