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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 220-225

Reaction time as a predictor for change-of-direction speed in male soccer players

1 Community College and the Faculty of Sciences and Arts, Northen Border Universiy, Turaif Campus, Turaif, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Physiology, Community College and the Faculty of Sciences and Arts, Northen Border Universiy, Turaif Campus, Turaif, Saudi Arabia; Research Unit, Sport Performance and Health, High Institute of Sport and Physical Education of Ksar Said, Tunisia

Date of Web Publication2-Sep-2015

Correspondence Address:
Homoud Mohammed Nawi Alanazi
Northern Border University, College of Art and Science in Turaif, Turaif, Saudi Arabia

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DOI: 10.4103/1319-6308.164287

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Background and Objectives: Measures of reaction time performance (RTP) to visual stimuli have been used as indicators of the speed of processing and also used to discriminate individuals with brain damage from controls. However, little is known about the relationship between RTP and change-of-direction speed, which is an important quality to performance in multi-direction sports. The Illinois agility test (IAT) and the 20-meter swerve-sprint test (20 m-SST) were designed to assess field sport change-of-direction speed and include linear sprint. This study examined the association between these two tests and their reliability with the RTP in football players. Methods: A total of 20 male soccer players (age: 24.04 ± 1.45 years; height: 175.75 ± 4.95 cm; body mass: 70.91 ± 8.90 kg), completed three tests. The 20 m-SST and IAT were evaluated using photoelectric cells timing gates while the software "reaction" was used to measure RTP in response to a visual stimulus. Pearson's correlations (P ≤ 0.05) was used to assess whether there are relationships between these variables. Results: The 20 m-SST was significantly and positively correlated with IAT while RTP was significantly correlated to IAT and 20 m-SST (P < 0.05). Interpretation and Conclusions: The significant relationships observed between IAT and RTP provides evidence to support the view that RTP can detect moderate performance changes in change-of-direction speed in football players. The results of this study indicate that RTP could be used as a valid assessment of change-of-direction speed as 20 m-SST and IAT in field sport athletes and particularly in soccer.

  Abstract in Arabic 

وقت رد الفعل باعتباره مؤشرا لتغير سرعة الاتجاه لدى لاعبي كرة القدم الذكور

الخلفية والأهداف: ان قياس وقت رد الفعل ( RTP ) للمؤثرات البصرية استخدم كمؤشر لسرعة تجهيز فعل ما وتيتخدم أيضا لتميز الأفراد الذين تلف في الدماغ بالمقارنة مع عينة ضابطة. ومع ذلك ، لا يعرف إلا القليل عن العلاقة بين RTP وسرعة تغير الاتجاه ، والتى تعتبر بمثابة مؤشرا هاما في الأداء البدنى متعدد الاتجاهات. ومن المعروف ان اختبار رشاقة ولاية ايلينوي ( IAT - The Illinois agility test ) واختبار الجرى الانحرافى لمسافة 20 مترا ( 20 م - SST - the 20-meter swerve-sprint test) يستعملان فى تقييم الرياضة متعددة الاتجاهات، وتشمل سرعة سباق الخطي وبحثت هذه الدراسة الارتباط بين هذه الاختبارين و موثوقيتهما في لاعبي كرة القدم.
المواد والأساليب: اجريت الدراسة فى مجموعه 20 لاعبا لكرة القدم الذكور (العمر : 24.04 ± 1.45 سنة؛ الطول: 175.75 ± 4.95 سم؛ كتلة الجسم : 70.91 ± 8.90 كجم ) ، اجريت عليهم ثلاثة اختبارات تم تقييم 20 م - SST و IAT باستخدام الخلايا الكهروضوئية مهيئة ببوابات توقيتية في حين أن برنامج "رد فعل " كان يستخدم لقياس RTP ردا على التحفيز البصري. وقد استخدم ارتباط بيرسون ( P ≤ 0.05) لتقييم ما إذا هناك علاقات بين هذه المتغيرات. النتائج : كان هناك ترابطا طرديا بين اختبارى 20 م - SST مع IAT بينما وجد اتباطا ذا دلالة احصائية بين اختبار RTP وختبارى 20 م SST و IAT - 0.05 <.P . التفسير و الاستنتاجات : إن وجود العلاقات الهامة التى لوحظت بين RTP والاختبارين الاخريين هى بمثابة دليل يدعم الرأي القائل بأن RTP يمكن تطبيقه للكشف عن تغييرات الأداء المعتدلة التى يصاحبها تغير اتجاه السرعة في لاعبي كرة القدم. ان نتائج هذه الدراسة تشير إلى أن اختبار RTP يمكن استخدامه لتقييم التغيير فى اتجاه سرعة مثل ما يستخدم اختبارى 20 م - SST و IAT في مجال الرياضة خاصة في كرة القدم.

Keywords: Agility, change-of-direction, reaction time, relationships, soccer

How to cite this article:
Alanazi HM, Aouadi R. Reaction time as a predictor for change-of-direction speed in male soccer players. Saudi J Sports Med 2015;15:220-5

How to cite this URL:
Alanazi HM, Aouadi R. Reaction time as a predictor for change-of-direction speed in male soccer players. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jul 8];15:220-5. Available from: http://www.sjosm.org/text.asp?2015/15/3/220/164287

  Introduction Top

Illinois agility test (IAT) as change-of-direction speeds is an essential quality for athletes who play field sports, such as soccer, American football, rugby league, and rugby union. [1] With the football codes, for example, short sprints occur throughout the game. Therefore, sprint training for the type of sport, should include the need to accelerate (reaching the highest speed possible in the shortest time period), to decelerate and change direction throughout the game. [2]

The ability of football player to produce diverse high-speed actions and motor skills are known to influence performance. Agility is an essential component in a most field requiring high-speed action (acceleration, maximal speed) and specially team sports competition. High-speed actions can be categorized into actions requiring maximal speed, acceleration, reaction time (RT) and agility. In addition, agility is a combination of speed and coordination. The speed which provides movements, the speed and coordination is an elementary technical demand for sportive performance in football. Therefore, there is no doubt that the cognitive component of agility is very important. [3],[4] In the same way, tests of agility have been shown to distinguish between playing standards in Australian rules football [2] and netball [5] as between different age groups and standards of play in rugby league. [6]

Certainly RT measures should be investigated regarding their possible benefits as an addition to more traditional neurophysiological for the testing battery in field sport athletes. Such applications of RT may provide additional measures of cognitive functions and increase the accuracy of decisions. [7] Therefore, we supposed that RT is an essential cognitive component of agility and could be associated with its variability. RT is described as the interval between the onset of a signal (stimulus) and the initiation of a movement response. [8] We hypothesized that RT is one of the factors of great impact in competitive sports, especially in team games like football. To execute a correct movement, a rapid response is required with minimal time interval due to the physical proximity of the adversary and or the velocity of the ball velocity. [9] Thus, the RT performance (RTP) is considered as the key to the performance of a player. A decreased RTP gives a player more time to consider the proper execution of an appropriate movement.

Despite the existence of extensive research investigating the ability of RTP procedures to detect the presence of brain dysfunction, [7] there is a lack of research investigating the relationship between RT tasks and change-of-direction speed. To our knowledge, there are not studies about the agility and RTP relationships. Accordingly, the main objective of this study was to examine if there is any relationship among 20-meter swerve-sprint test (20 m-SST), IAT (known as two used tests of change-of-direction speed in field sport athletes) with RTP in male soccer players. On the same time, we would define the association between IAT and the 20 m-SST. We think that the present study is the first investigation examining the importance of the relationship between IAT and other physical components such as the speed with change-of-direction and RTP in football players. The IAT test was selected because of their reported validity and reproducibility. [10] Finally, we determined the coefficient of determination to indicate how much of the total variation in one test variable is explained by another.

  Methods Top


Twenty student male football players [age and anthropometric characteristics are presented in in [Table 1] all from the first division of the championship participated in this study. Subjects were recruited from a squad of highly trained, competitive football players. All subjects were found to be in good health. The selected players possessed at least 8 years of experience in football training and competition. They took part in National Championship at the time of the investigation. They thus continued football training three to 4 times/week (~90 min/session) and played one official game per week. The subjects and their parents were fully informed about the possible risks and discomfort associated with the study, and all signed a written informed consent form previously approved by the local ethics committee and in accordance with the ethical standards of the Helsinki declaration of 1975.
Table 1: Characteristics of experimental group (mean±SD)

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Testing procedures

The IAT was selected because of its reported validity and reproducibility. [10] All of the testing procedures were completed during the competitive season 2 months after the beginning of the national championship.

The 20 m-SST was used to explore qualities necessary to succeed in (swerve-sprinting) sprints with changes of direction [11] [Figure 1]. The IAT was used to determine the ability to accelerate, decelerate, turn in different directions, and run at different angles [Figure 2].
Figure 1: 20 m swerve-sprint (20 Dc). M-meters (Cazorla et al., 2008)

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Figure 2: Illinois agility test procedures

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Before testing, subjects were given practice trials to become familiar with the testing procedures. Before performing the field test, each player was instructed and verbally encouraged to give a maximal effort during all tests. The total testing session was approximately 1-h for each subject including warm-up, 10 min rest times between tests and approximately 3 min between reps.

20-meter swerve-sprint

The 20 m-SST has been used in the assessment of field sport athletes. [11] The 20 m-SST measurements were carried out by using photoelectric cells placed at 0 m, and 20 m (Microgate Racetime2, Linkgate System, SARL Bolzano, Italy). Photoelectric cells were positioned at 0 m (start) and at 20 m (arrival) [Figure 1]. The players stood 1 m behind the starting line and started on a verbal signal. Once ready, subjects were allowed to start in their own time and were instructed to run as fast as they could to complete the 20 m distance. They repeated the test 3 times with 30 s rest periods in between. The fastest of 3 trials was used for subsequent analysis.

Illinois agility test

The IAT was used to determine the ability to accelerate, decelerate, turn in different directions, and run at different angles [Figure 2] [12] .

  • Test is set with four cones forming the agility area (10 m long × 5 m wide)
  • Cone A marking the start
  • Cone B and C to mark the turning spots
  • Cone D to mark the finish
  • Place four cones in the center of the testing area 3.3 m apart
  • Start lying in the prone position with chin touching the surface of the starting line
  • On the go command, the subject begins and time starts when they cross the photocells
  • Get up and run the course in the set path (left to right or right to left)
  • On the turn spots B and C, the subject should touch the cones with his hand
  • Trial is complete when the subject crosses the finish line and when no cones are
  • Knocked over.

Measurement of the reaction time

The measurement of RTP was determined using the software "reaction." The value considered here is the mean and the evolution of the deviation from the different RT. This software contains various tests: Comparisons of forms, appearances of forms and a form of recognition among others. The user could choose the color of various geometric figures or even choose static images (flowers, books…). In this study the test was chosen as the recognition of a "blue square" among other figures (circles, triangles, square, and rectangle) of the same color. Each subject was requested to click on assessed as quickly as possible when he saw that form. On the test day, all subjects were asked not to drink coffee, tea, cola and other drinks considered to have stimulant effects. [13] All subjects evaluated in this study have never used the software before. The RT was measured under the same experimental conditions and before the exercise intervention. In addition, testing sessions were conducted at the same time of the day (at 12 h 30 min). Therefore, a meeting of the recognition software was conducted during which each subject performed a familiarization trial in the 2 days prior to the main testing. All individuals have completed three trials during the test and the results were averaged. Each trial consisted of 10 times of reaction. All participants were tested using identical protocols and the tests were completed in a fixed order.

Statistical analyses

Data are reported as mean ± standard deviation (SD). Before using parametric tests, the assumption of normality was verified using the Shapiro-Wilk W-test. Pearson correlation (r), linear regression analysis and the coefficient of determination (r 2: Used for interpreting the meaningfulness of the relation) were used to examine the relationships between IAT and RT. Significance was assumed at 5% (P ≤ 0.05. Statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences SPSS, version 14.0 software for Windows. Based in Chicago, SPSS Inc., 233 South Wacker Drive, 11th Floor, Chicago, IL, USA.

  Results Top

Mean times (mean ± SD) for all tests are shown in [Table 1], while the correlations and coefficients of determination between the various variables (RTP, IAT and 20 m-SST) are shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Mean values (mean±SD) of 20 m-SST, IAT and RT in the experimental group

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Our results showed that the 20 m-SST was significantly and positively correlated to Illinois Agility Test (IAG) (r = 0.54; R 2 =0.37; P < 0.01) [Figure 3]. In addition, a linear regression analysis was conducted on the bivariate data set to evaluate the prediction of IAT and 20 m-SST average from the subjects score of the RTP. The results indicated that there are linear relationships between RTP and the change-of-direction speeds (IAT and 20 m-SST). These results demonstrated that the subject's score on the RTP increased, their IAT and 20 m-SST performance also tended to increase [Figure 4] and [Figure 5]. The regression equations for predicting respectively IAT (1) and the 20 m-SST (2) from RTP are:

  1. Predicted IAT = 0.007 RTP + 14.435
  2. Predicted 20 m-SST = 0.003 RTP + 5.44.

Figure 3: Relationship between Illinois agility test and 20 m swerve-sprint test (r = 0.54; P < 0.01)

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Figure 4: Relationship between reaction time performance and Illinois agility test (r = 0.53; P < 0.01)

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Figure 5: Relationship between reaction time performance and 20 m swerve-sprint test (r = 0.49; P < 0.05)

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These result explained that approximately 55% of the variance in the IAT and 49% of that of the 20 m-SST performances were accounted for by their linear relationships with the RTP.

  Discussion Top

Contradictory findings have been reported as to the extent of the relationship between the different speed components. For these reasons, the aim of this study was to examine relationships between IAT, the 20 m-SST with a change of direction and RTP in football players. The performance on the 20 m-SST was correlated at the high level of statistical significance (P < 0.01) with IAT performance. IAT is considered as a validated change-of-direction speed test that assesses an athlete's ability to sprint linearly while also performing direction changes. [1] This result would primarily suggest that the 20 m-SST performance could provide an overall assessment of the football player.

On the other hand, in accordance with our hypothesis, the main finding of this study was that performance on the performances on RTP, the change-of-direction speed tests used in this study as 20 m-SST and IAT were all significantly and positively correlated [Table 3]. These data would also initially explain that 20 m-SST, IAT and RTP share common physiological and biomechanical determinants. In the present paper, we will comment briefly on each of these associations.
Table 3: The correlation coefficient (r) and coefficient of determination (R2) values between the three variables (RTP, IAT and 20 m-SST) in the experimental group (n=20)

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Our results demonstrated that subjects with a high RTP are those with superior IAT or 20 m-SST performances. The results of this study are in accord to other researches in this field and a meaningful relation between agility and showing a reaction to a stimulant. Our data are equivalent to those of other studies in this field. Çömük and Erden, [14] in their study on agility and reaction scores on ice-skaters determined that children playing sports had better reactions and agility and athletes with better RTs were also getting high agility scores. The same findings were observed by and Ölçücü [15] in his study on the factors affecting the development of tennis playing skills on 10-14-year-old children.

The study of Büyükipekçi and Taşkın [16] examined the change on RTP, agility and anaerobic performance of female volleyball players. They introduced how important RTP was on the action the players made instantly both in defense and offense and how important agility was to be able to move the whole body rapidly and correctly. Moreover, the research demonstrated that players with good reactions had developed agility features, too.

Young et al. [17] define agility as the shifting action in different sports, starting an action, escaping the opponent, moving the ball with a ball, stopping skills and showing a reaction. Equally, the performance of agility could be defined as a response to a stimulant and for that a relation between agility and reaction is considered. Drowatzky [18] expresses that reaction is a sum of processes in sense organs, brain, nerves, and muscles. Speed and timing are frequently used performance criteria in the motor learning studies. As a significant indicator of success, performance is a notion that is measurable by time.

High levels of neuronal activation are needed to reach maximal sprint velocities. Potential mechanisms developing sprint performance in handball or football players include more efficient movement due to changes in temporal sequencing of muscle activation, preferential recruitment of fast motor units and increased nerve conduction velocity. [19] In terms of motor control, researchers assume that there are three stages in information processing. The first stage pertains to stimulus identification in response to sensory inputs. When this stage is completed, information is passed to the response selection stage and finally to the third stage, response programming until an action (output) occurs. [20] Sources of stimuli such as a flying ball or court illumination may influence a player's information processing time. The time cost associated with each of these three stages determines the length of the RTP.

Colcombe and Kramer [21] suggested that all sports are beneficial for the enhancement of cognitive function, because there was not any difference among different sports mentioned in their study such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, running, and skiing. The findings of Akarsu et al. [22] confirmed this view and showed that athletes have faster eye-hand visual RTs and higher scores on visuospatial intelligence than nonathletes. Practice reduces decision time by eliminating incorrect decisions and enables correct decision to be made more efficiently. Enough practice of the act causes the formation of conditioned reflex. Hence in selection criteria, RT should be assessed. The training programs should include different means to improve RT in football players. In addition, it can be stated that all sports are beneficial for the enhancement of cognitive function, [21] because there was not any difference among different sports mentioned in this study such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, running, and skiing.

  Conclusion Top

The data of this study revealed that, despite its limitations, the 20 m-SST performance was significantly and highly associated to IAT and could provide an overall assessment of the football player. Similarly, the RTP revealed acceptable validity and significant reliability to the change-of-direction speeds (IAT and 20 m-SST). In addition, the RTP, 20 m-SST and agility are shared common physiological and biomechanical determinants. Therefore, the current study provides scientific evidence to support the use of RTP in predicting coaches IAT and 20 m-SST performances in football players. These data provides evidence to support the view that RTP can detect moderate performance changes in change-of-direction speed in field sport athletes.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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