Exciting scientific research shows that goalkeepers have exceptional abilities. s superior to other footballers and even to ordinary mortals.
In football, the goalkeeper is a player. part, who almost practices a different sport. Only player allowed à To use his hands, he must have very particular qualities: most often large in size, but above all lively, courageous, with a good reading of trajectories and above all excellent reflexes. But are these players really so different from the others? According to a recent scientific study, goalkeepers may have superior cognitive skills. those of other footballers and even those of other footballers. those of ordinary mortals.
Irish researchers from Dublin City University looked into the question, led by behavioral neuroscientist Michael Quinn, a former professional goalkeeper. For this study, they worked on with 60 “guinea pigs”: 20 professional goalkeepers, 20 professional field players as well, and finally 20 people who do not play football.
Michael Quinn explains his approach: "Unlike other football players, goalkeepers must make thousands of very rapid decisions based on limited or incomplete sensory information . […] This led us to predict that goalkeepers would possess an ability to increased to combine information coming from the different senses, and this hypothesis was tested. confirmed by our results.
Experiments were carried out carried out to assess the speed of with which the participants The students were able to process and integrate information from their senses, what is technically called a “temporal binding window.” (“sensory processing window”). À In each trial, one or two flashes of light (visual stimuli) were presented, accompanied by one, two, or no beeps (auditory stimuli). During the test with one flash and two beeps, most participants believed they saw only two flashes, which highlights poor integration of visual and auditory stimuli.
Goalkeepers have a "sensory processing window" significantly narrower compared to field players and non-players, thus demonstrating more effective multisensory processing. In short, they perceive information in their environment with more precision and speed and can therefore make faster decisions based on this data. This partly explains the exceptional reflexes that professional doormen must have.
In addition, the goalkeepers showed their strength. that they were better able to separate sensory signals, particularly visual and auditory. Once again, this is a major advantage: goalkeepers sometimes have to react to situations. a visual signal only, the sounds being covered by the noise of the public, or on the contrary an audio signal only, when they do not see the ball, but hear the strike for example.
Difference in multisensory processing between professional goalkeepers, professional outfield players and volunteer controls. © Michael Quinn et al., 2023
At the end of these tests, psychologist David McGovern of Dublin City University, wonders: "The sensory processing window Could the narrower trend observed in goalkeepers be due to the rigorous training to which they are subjected from a very young age? Or do these differences in multisensory processing reflect a capacity for processing? innate and natural talent that attracts young players to the goalkeeper position?" We are waiting for the next study to have an answer.