Year of Publication

2021

Date of Thesis

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Exercise and Sport Sciences

Abstract

Superior athletic performance is rooted in the excellence of execution of various physical and psychological skills (PCS) (Panchuk et al., 2018). Recent research has focused intensively on PCS as an important factor for athletic excellence (Fleddermann et al., 2019). With the rapid advancement of technology, the training of PCS via computerized methods in athletics has received increased attention. New devices permit the display of realistic visual scenes in immersive contexts (e.g., 3D visualization, virtual reality). While the availability of products to train PCS have increased, evidence of its effectiveness is still developing (see Harris et al., 2018; Zentgraf et al., 2017). According to Hadlow and colleagues (2018) Modified Perceptual Training Framework (MPTF), the effectiveness of perceptual training may be dependent on targeted perceptual function, stimulus correspondence, and response correspondence to the targeted athletic activity. As such, training with general cognitive training tools should be less effective compared to immersive modalities.

The design of this project includes two different studies. The purpose of study one was to create and validate a 360° video battery with volleyball athletes. Participants for study one included 30, female undergraduate and graduate students. Fifteen participants were considered expert athletes and were all members on NCAA DIII volleyball athletes [Years of Experience: M = 9.73 (2.43)]. Fifteen participants were considered novice athletes with a minimum of one year of high school volleyball experience but were not members of any collegiate sport team [Years of Experience: M = 5.73 (3.41)]. Athletes were shown a 360-degree video battery and asked to make sport specific decisions based off what they saw in the video. Results from the study demonstrated that expert athletes made significantly fewer errors on both the middle blocker and outside hitter contexts than their novice counterparts.

The purpose of the second study was to compare the training of perceptual skills with immersive training (i.e., 360° video) to general cognitive modalities (i.e., NeuroTracker™, FITLIGHT®). Participants included 15 NCAA DIII volleyball athletes. Athletes completed an 11-week perceptual cognitive training (PCT) intervention. Athletes were assigned a training group, either virtual reality or general cognitive training group. Athletes trained for four weeks and then switched training modalities for a crossover study design. For the middle blocker context, athletes training in the VR group made significantly fewer errors than their general cognitive training counterparts. However, for the outside hitter context there was no significant difference. Results demonstrate for both far transfer measures, athletes improved their decision-making regardless of training group over the course of the 11-week training period. Results from this study point to the usability of 360-degree video for perceptual-cognitive training

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