The Effect of COVID-19 Confinement in Behavioral, Psychological, and Training Patterns of Chess Players
ABSTRACT: The outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered a pandemic, jeopardizing global health. The sports world is also suffering enormous consequences, such as the suspension of the Olympic Games in Tokyo or, in chess, the cancelation of the World Candidates Tournament 2020. Chess is a sport characterized by high psychophysiological demands derived from long training durations, tournaments, and games, leading to mental, emotional, and physical stress. These characteristics could provide chess players a certain advantage in facing quarantine situations. This study aimed to analyze the effect of COVID-19 confinement on behavioral, psychological, and training patterns of chess players based on their gender, level of education, and level of chess played. We analyzed chess players (N: 450; age = 38.12 ± 14.01 years) in countries where confinement was mandatory: Professional players (N: 55; age = 43.35 ± 13), high-performance players (N: 53; age = 38.57 ± 13.46), competitive players (N: 284; age = 36.82 ± 13.91), and amateur players (N: 58; age = 39.10 ± 14.99). Results showed that chess players significantly decreased physical activity per day while increased chess practise during the confinement period. However, anxiety levels remained moderate despite the anti-stress effects of physical activity. Amateur players showed a significantly higher level of social alarm than professional and high-performance players. Moreover, professional players showed higher values of extraversion than high-performance players and amateur players. In neuroticism, professional players showed higher values than high-performance players. In addition, the professional players showed higher scores in psychological inflexibility than competitive players. Finally, chess players with the highest academic level showed higher levels of personal concern and anxiety due to COVID-19 as well as lower psychological inflexibility compared to those with a lower academic level. In conclusion, chess players, especially those with a higher academic level, might have adapted their psychological profile to fit confinement situations and the worrying levels of physical inactivity.
Project description:Chess is a good model to study high-level human brain functions such as spatial cognition, memory, planning, learning and problem solving. Recent studies have demonstrated that non-invasive MRI techniques are valuable for researchers to investigate the underlying neural mechanism of playing chess. For professional chess players (e.g., chess grand masters and masters or GM/Ms), what are the structural and functional alterations due to long-term professional practice, and how these alterations relate to behavior, are largely veiled. Here, we report a multimodal MRI dataset from 29 professional Chinese chess players (most of whom are GM/Ms), and 29 age matched novices. We hope that this dataset will provide researchers with new materials to further explore high-level human brain functions.
Project description:The spread of COVID-19 has altered sport in Spain, forcing athletes to train at home. The objectives of the study were: (i) to compare training and recovery conditions before and during the isolation period in handball players according to gender and competitive level, and (ii) to analyse the impact of psychological factors during the isolation period. A total of 187 participants (66 women and 121 men) answered a Google Forms questionnaire about demographics, training, moods, emotional intelligence, and resilience sent using the snowball sampling technique. T-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to compare sport level and gender differences. Linear regressions were used to analyse the psychological influence on training. Handball players reduced training intensity (in the whole sample; p = 0.44), training volume (especially in professional female handball players; p < 0.001), and sleep quality (especially in professional male handball players; p = 0.21) and increased sleep hours (especially in non-professional female players; p = 0.006) during the isolation period. Furthermore, psychological factors affected all evaluated training and recovery conditions during the quarantine, except for sleep quantity. Mood, emotional intelligence, and resilience have an influence on physical activity levels and recovery conditions. In addition, training components were modified under isolation conditions at p < 0.001. We conclude that the COVID-19 isolation period caused reductions in training volume and intensity and decreased sleep quality. Furthermore, psychological components have a significant impact on training and recovery conditions.
Project description:Multidisciplinary approaches have demonstrated that the brain is potentially modulated by the long-term acquisition and practice of specific skills. Chess playing can be considered a paradigm for shaping brain function, with complex interactions among brain networks possibly enhancing cognitive processing. Dynamic network analysis based on resting-state magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) can be useful to explore the effect of chess playing on whole-brain fluidity/dynamism (the chronnectome). Dynamic connectivity parameters of 18 professional chess players and 20 beginner chess players were evaluated applying spatial independent component analysis (sICA), sliding-time window correlation, and meta-state approaches to rs-fMRI data. Four indexes of meta-state dynamic fluidity were studied: i) the number of distinct meta-states a subject pass through, ii) the number of switches from one meta-state to another, iii) the span of the realized meta-states (the largest distance between two meta-states that subjects occupied), and iv) the total distance travelled in the state space. Professional chess players exhibited an increased dynamic fluidity, expressed as a higher number of occupied meta-states (meta-state numbers, 75.8?±?7.9 vs 68.8?±?12.0, p?=?0.043 FDR-corrected) and changes from one meta-state to another (meta-state changes, 77.1 ± 7.3 vs 71.2 ± 11.0, p?=?0.043 FDR-corrected) than beginner chess players. Furthermore, professional chess players exhibited an increased dynamic range, with increased traveling between successive meta-states (meta-state total distance, 131.7 ± 17.8 vs 108.7 ± 19.7, p?=?0.0004 FDR-corrected). Chess playing may induce changes in brain activity through the modulation of the chronnectome. Future studies are warranted to evaluate if these potential effects lead to enhanced cognitive processing and if "gaming" might be used as a treatment in clinical practice.
Project description:The Moderating Roles of Psychological Flexibility and Inflexibility on the Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic and Lockdown in Italy. Preliminary data suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has adverse effects on mental health in approximately a quarter of the general population. Few prior studies have identified contextual risk factors and no published study has explored factors that might moderate their adverse effects on mental health. Psychological flexibility is the cornerstone of psychological health and resiliency. This study investigated the roles of psychological flexibility and inflexibility in moderating the effects of COVID-19 risk factors on three mental health outcomes: COVID-19 peritraumatic distress, anxiety, depression. We hypothesized that psychological flexibility would mitigate and psychological inflexibility would exacerbate the adverse effects of COVID-19 risk factors on mental health. During the Italian national lockdown (M = 39.29 days, SD = 11.26), 1035 adults (79% female, M = 37.5 years, SD = 12.3) completed an online survey. Twelve COVID-19 risk factors were identified (e.g. lockdown duration, family infected by COVID-19, increase in domestic violence and in unhealthy lifestyle behaviours) and constituted a COVID-19 Lockdown Index. As predicted, results showed that after controlling for sociodemographic variables, global psychological flexibility and four of its sub-processes (self-as context, defusion, values, committed action), mitigated the detrimental impacts of COVID-19 risk factors on mental health. In contrast and as expected, global psychological inflexibility and four of its sub-processes (lack of contact with present moment, fusion, self-as-content, lack of contact with personal values) exacerbated the detrimental impacts of COVID-19 risk factors on mental health. Findings converge with those from the broader psychological flexibility literature providing robust support for the use of ACT-based interventions to promote psychological flexibility and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project description:Prediction of adult performance from early age talent identification in sport remains difficult. Talent identification research has generally been performed using univariate analysis, which ignores multivariate relationships. To address this issue, this study used a novel higher-dimensional model to orthogonalize multivariate anthropometric and fitness data from junior rugby league players, with the aim of differentiating future career attainment. Anthropometric and fitness data from 257 Under-15 rugby league players was collected. Players were grouped retrospectively according to their future career attainment (i.e., amateur, academy, professional). Players were blindly and randomly divided into an exploratory (n = 165) and validation dataset (n = 92). The exploratory dataset was used to develop and optimize a novel higher-dimensional model, which combined singular value decomposition (SVD) with receiver operating characteristic analysis. Once optimized, the model was tested using the validation dataset. SVD analysis revealed 60 m sprint and agility 505 performance were the most influential characteristics in distinguishing future professional players from amateur and academy players. The exploratory dataset model was able to distinguish between future amateur and professional players with a high degree of accuracy (sensitivity = 85.7%, specificity = 71.1%; p<0.001), although it could not distinguish between future professional and academy players. The validation dataset model was able to distinguish future professionals from the rest with reasonable accuracy (sensitivity = 83.3%, specificity = 63.8%; p = 0.003). Through the use of SVD analysis it was possible to objectively identify criteria to distinguish future career attainment with a sensitivity over 80% using anthropometric and fitness data alone. As such, this suggests that SVD analysis may be a useful analysis tool for research and practice within talent identification.
Project description:The game of chess has often been used for psychological investigations, particularly in cognitive science. The clear-cut rules and well-defined environment of chess provide a model for investigations of basic cognitive processes, such as perception, memory, and problem solving, while the precise rating system for the measurement of skill has enabled investigations of individual differences and expertise-related effects. In the present study, we focus on another appealing feature of chess-namely, the large archive databases associated with the game. The German national chess database presented in this study represents a fruitful ground for the investigation of multiple longitudinal research questions, since it collects the data of over 130,000 players and spans over 25 years. The German chess database collects the data of all players, including hobby players, and all tournaments played. This results in a rich and complete collection of the skill, age, and activity of the whole population of chess players in Germany. The database therefore complements the commonly used expertise approach in cognitive science by opening up new possibilities for the investigation of multiple factors that underlie expertise and skill acquisition. Since large datasets are not common in psychology, their introduction also raises the question of optimal and efficient statistical analysis. We offer the database for download and illustrate how it can be used by providing concrete examples and a step-by-step tutorial using different statistical analyses on a range of topics, including skill development over the lifetime, birth cohort effects, effects of activity and inactivity on skill, and gender differences.
Project description:Currently, most basketball research is focused on professional and elite players. Studies at the amateur level are important to explain the physical and technical demands of competition and thus improve players' and teams' performance. The purpose of the present study was to describe the competitive demands of an amateur-level basketball team and to analyze the influence of different situational variables on the physical and technical performance indicators. Eleven amateur senior basketball players participated in six official final-round games during the 2018/2019 season. External, internal load, and notational analysis were registered by inertial devices, heart rate bands, and video analysis. The Kruskal-Wallis H-test was applied for comparisons based on playing positions, periods, and final quarter game outcome, with the post hoc comparison accomplished by a Mann-Whitney U test. The Spearman correlation coefficient was realized for the relational analysis. The results showed that: (a) guards covered more volume of displacements (effective on-court time: p < 0.01, E R 2 = 0.05; steps/min: p < 0.01, E R 2 = 0.28) and the centers performed competitive actions of higher load ([>8G] Imp/min: p < 0.01, E R 2 = 0.20; jumps/min: p < 0.01, E R 2 = 0.33); (b) a performance decreasing was found between the first and second half of the game; (c) in balanced matches there was the most individual technical performance (PIR/min: p < 0.98, E R 2 = 0.01), while in the unbalanced games more high-intensity impacts were seen ([>8G] Imp/min: p < 0.01, E R 2 = 0.07). The situational variables analyzed had an influence on athletic performance in amateur senior basketball players and should be considered for designing training sessions and planning strategies during official matches.
Project description:Coaches at the professional level are often concerned about negative side effects from testing and intensive resistance training periods, and they are not willing to base their training prescriptions on data obtained from semiprofessional or amateur football players. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to analyze the reliability and effectiveness of two adductor injury active prevention programs using the adductor/abductor ratio and deficit between legs, on the basis of adduction-abduction power output during the exercises proposed, in professional football players. Forty-eight professional football players undertook complementary strength training for the adductor and abductor muscles in their dominant and non-dominant legs, once or twice a week throughout the playing season. The volume of the session was determined by the adductor/abductor ratio and the deficit between legs in the last session training measured. The number and severity of muscle injuries per 1000 h of exposure were recorded. Both prevention programs showed a very low rate of adductor injury (0.27 and 0.07 injuries/1000 h) with mild-to-moderate severity, maintaining a balance in percentage asymmetry between dominant and non-dominant legs for adductor (10.37%) and in the adductor/abductor ratio (0.92) in top professional football players throughout the season. The strength conditioning program proposed can help to prevent adductor muscle injuries in top professional football players.
Project description:Individual differences in memory performance in a domain of expertise have traditionally been accounted for by previously acquired chunks of knowledge and patterns. These accounts have been examined experimentally mainly in chess. The role of chunks (clusters of chess pieces recalled in rapid succession during recall of chess positions) and their relations to chess skill are, however, under debate. By introducing an independent chunk-identification technique, namely repeated-recall technique, this study identified individual chunks for particular chess players. The study not only tested chess players with increasing chess expertise, but also tested non-chess players who should not have previously acquired any chess related chunks in memory. For recall of game positions significant differences between players and non-players were found in virtually all the characteristics of chunks recalled. Size of the largest chunks also correlates with chess skill within the group of rated chess players. Further research will help us understand how these memory encodings can explain large differences in chess skill.
Project description:The ability to differentiate the elite from nonelite athletes is not clearly defined. We investigated level differences in speed, change of direction speed (CODS), and reactive agility in a group of trained adolescent soccer players. A total of 75 adolescent male soccer players (aged 14-19 years) were recruited. The players were grouped based on the level of play to elite, sub-elite, and amateur players. Players were tested for 5-, 10- and 20-m sprints, CODS, and reactive agility tests (RAT). Elite players had faster reaction movement time during RAT with live opponent stimuli (p ? 0.01) compared to sub-elite and amateur players. Moreover, elite players showed a faster time during light stimuli (p ? 0.01) but only compared to amateur players. The times for 5-m and 10-m sprint groups did not differ (p > 0.05). The results demonstrated that the skilled players (elite and sub-elite) performed better in reactive agility tests, speed, and COD speed compared to amateur players. Additionally, we can conclude that total and reaction time in the agility test with live opponent stimuli can be a significant factor that differentiates between adolescent soccer players considering their level.