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What Is Game Intelligence?

Survey shows importance of mental factors for elite players.

Basketball players with game intelligence

Physical performance isn’t the only measurement of excellence. In fact, if you’re working with someone who is training for a team sport, it’s good to let them know that success isn’t just about a slam dunk. A first-time international survey of performance indicators used during recruitment by coaches of elite basketball players found that psychological attributes and “game intelligence” are the most important factors if an athlete wants to excel.

Game intelligence is widely understood as a player’s ability to, during gameplay, quickly assess situations, make decisions and innovate under pressure to find the best solutions. Both cognitive processes (like memory, reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making) and psychological processes (like motivation, optimism and resilience) are required.

“Coaches look for players who are competitive, have a strong work ethic, are excellent communicators, [are] good teammates and can ‘read’ the game,” said lead study author Michael Rogers, PhD candidate at University of South Australia in Adelaide. “Being super fit is a given. It is the other traits that make a difference to the scoreboard. Resilience, motivation and good communication on the court are crucial in separating the ‘best from the rest’ once players reach elite level, according to the coaches we surveyed.”

The study is published in Sports Medicine (2021; doi:10.1007/s40279-021-01584-w).

See also: Sports Drink Color Affects Performance

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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