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Neven Kovačević1,2, Frane Mihanović3, Linda Lušić Kalcina4, Vladimir Pavlinovic1, Nikola Foretic1, Tea Galić4,5

1Faculty of Kinesiology University of Split, Split, Croatia
2Croatian Water Polo Federation, Zagreb, Croatia
3Department of Health Sciences University of Split, Split, Croatia
4University of Split School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Split, Croatia
5University of Split School of Medicine, Department of Prosthodontics, Split, Croatia

Cognitive Functions of Youth Water Polo Players

Sport Mont 2023, 21(2), 91-96 | DOI: 10.26773/smj.230714


Some previous studies suggested that children’s engagement in sports has been associated with the improvement of cognitive functions, especially working memory, visual-spatial memory, motor coordination and cognitive flexibility. The aim of this study was to compare cognitive functions between female and male youth water polo players and the control subjects – school children of the same chronological age who did not participate in organized sports activity. There were 23 female (14.65±1.11 years old) and 23 male (14.52±0.51 years old) water polo players (WP), members of Croatian National team enrolled in this study for cognitive testing (Stroop test). The control group consisted of 8 female (14.75±0.89 years old) and 18 male (14.28±0.89 years old) school students who did not participate in organized sports activity. There were no significant differences in psychomotor speed (Stroop Off), while youth water polo players showed better response inhibition (Stroop On) (WP 65.33±9.09 s vs. control subjects 72.78±11.97 s, P=0.030) and psychomotor ability (OnTime minus OffTime) (WP 7.22±5.18 s vs. control subjects 14.13±9.22 s) (P<0.001) than control subjects. The findings of this study suggest that children who participate in high-level water polo develop better cognitive flexibility than school students who do not participate in organized sports activity.


team sport games, school children, psychomotor ability, inhibition

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