“If you compare how people in general do in this test, the professional footballers were among the top two percent of the population,“ said Predag Petrovic of the department of clinical neuroscience at KI, to Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT).
When the scientists tested 57 players from the top two Swedish professional league, the Allvenskan and Division 1, they found that both male and female players were significantly better at solving problems in psychological tests than the average Swede.
“You could say that the test measures a person's general ability to be creative in the moment and constantly find new solutions to a problem, something that a football player has to be able to do if they are to be successful on the field,” Petrovic told UNT.
And the better the player and higher the league they played in, the better the results.
After following the players for two seasons, the scientists also found that the players that had scored highest in the tests also performed better on the football field with a higher number of scores and assists.
Petrovic thinks that the test may become an important tool when recruiting young players to the football clubs, but stressed that the study was still not very extensive and that further testing would be necessary.
“We are also planning to investigate if this test could be used the same way to predict success within team handball, ice hockey, basketball and other team sports,” Petrovic told UNT.
The study will be published in the esteemed medial journal PLoS One.