Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Daire Lynch 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I am a BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology student in IADT, with a passion for sport. I have played soccer my whole life. I used my major research project this year as an opportunity to combine my two areas of interest (psychology and sport). I investigated the importance of psychology, particularly cognition, in soccer. I plan to continue exploring these two areas when I begin my Masters in Sport and Performance Psychology in the University of Amsterdam in September, with the hope of becoming a sport psychologist in the future.

Project Description

This study involved examining three different groups of soccer players' cognitive skills, based upon the scores they recorded on a Virtual Reality soccer training program. The soccer players were allocated to one of three groups based upon their level of soccer expertise. Non-players and amateur soccer players were recruited from among the IADT student population, and the IADT soccer team respectively, while professional soccer players were recruited from a professional soccer team playing in the League of Ireland. The participants played a virtual reality soccer program. Their results on the game were recorded and then compared.

Project Objectives

This study had two main aims: 1. To evaluate the potential of a virtual reality game setting to measure and train cognitive skills (specifically visual scanning and decision-making in sport), in a group of soccer players and 2. To determine if soccer players from different levels of expertise varied in these cognitive abilities.

Project Outcomes

The results of this study indicated that soccer expertise did appear to have a significant impact on the players' scan frequency and decision-making skills, indicating that virtual reality could provide an alternative approach to 'live-on-pitch play' in which to investigate and test these skills. The study also addressed gaps in the past literature by investigating scan timing, comparing scan frequency across the three groups of participants, and using a virtual reality setting in which to compare players’ decision-making skills.

Thesis Title

An investigation of the impact of soccer players' expertise on their scan frequency, scan timing, and decision-making, as measured by a soccer-specific virtual reality training program.