Effects of Open (Racket) and Closed (Running) Skill Sports Practice on Children’s Attentional Performance
Maria Chiara Gallotta1, *, Valerio Bonavolontà2, Giovanna Zimatore3, Sara Iazzoni1, Laura Guidetti1, #, Carlo Baldari3, #
1 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy
3 Ordinary of Methods and Didactics of Sports Activities, Rector's Delegate for Didactics and Sport, eCampus University, Novedrate, Italy
The first aim of the study was to examine the attentional performance of children (8–13 years of age) who practiced two different sport disciplines: Open skill sport – racket and closed skill sport – running and also to investigate the acute effects of these two specific training sessions on children’s immediate and delayed attentional performance.
The second aim of the present study was to verify gender differences in attentional performance. Eighteen children+ (8 girls and 10 boys; age = 10.6 ± 1.5 yrs; height = 144.3 ± 12.2 cm; weight = 44.2 ± 12.5 kg; BMI = 20.8 ± 2.7 kg/m2) engaged in a racket sports and eighteen children (9 girls and 9 boys; age = 9.9 ± 1.2 yrs; height = 142.4 ± 9.5 cm; weight = 40.0 ± 8.6 kg; BMI = 19.6 ± 2.4 kg/m2) engaged in running were enrolled.
Children’s training and experience with these activities averaged 2.3 (± 1.0) years. Children’s attentional capacity was measured before, immediately after and 50 minutes after each specific training session by the d2 test of attention.
This paper -and -pencil letter cancellation test evaluated concentration and sustained attention under stress induced by a fixed executing time. A 2 (Sport: open vs closed skill) x 2 (Gender: boys vs girls) x 3 (Time: pre vs 0’ post vs 50’ post) repeated measures ANOVA for time was used to compare the effect of an open skill session and a closed skill session on the individual attentional variables.
Children of open skill sport showed higher attentional scores (higher processing speed - TN, higher concentration performance - CP and lower percentage of errors - E%; p < 0.01), improved CP from pre to 0’ post intervention (p = 0.01) and maintained this improved performance at 50’ post intervention (50’ post vs pre; p < 0.01), and decreased E% from pre to 0’ post intervention (p = 0.01) and maintained this improvement at 50’ post intervention (50’ post vs pre; p < 0.001). Children of closed skill sport significantly decreased their CP from pre to 50’ post intervention (50’ post vs pre; p = 0.001 and 50’ post vs 0’ post; p < 0.0001) and worsened their E% across the time (50’ post vs pre; p = 0.001 and 50’ post vs 0’ post; p < 0.0001). Boys showed significantly higher TN values than girls only in closed skill sport (p = 0.023). Finally, all girls of both open and closed skill sports significantly improved their CP from pre to 0’ post intervention (p = 0.04).
Results of the study showed that open skill sport practice and training session positively affects children’s attentional performance.
Keywords: Acute exercise, Attentional response, Open skill sport, Closed skill sport, Gender, Post intervention.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Piazza Lauro De Bosis, 6, I - 00135 Rome, Italy; Tel: 0039 06 36733 371;
The contribution of these last two authors must be considered equal.