Athlete's verbal intelligence as a factor in formation of integral image of motor action


Associate Professor, PhD G.A. Kuz'menko
Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow

Keywords: adolescent athlete, verbal intelligence, manifestation trends, intellectual demand, motor skill model image, motor skill mastering quality.


The initiatives to intellectualize the adolescent’s performance standards in the children’s and youth sport system are motivated by the need for (still largely untapped) intellectual resources of personality being mobilized to improve the competitive performance as verified by the relevant educational, training and competitive performance efficiency criteria and behavioural models. As provided by Howard Gardner (1983), verbal (or linguistic) intelligence means the ability “to express one’s thoughts and understand other people” [3]. “Verbal reflection of reality is one of the most important individual mental development factors directly relevant to the self-realization process” [4], and efforts to excel the procedural aspects of the verbal intellect manifestations will be viewed as an important educational resource to improve the motor skill model image formation quality. A verbal intellect of an adolescent athlete shall not be interpreted as only the sport thesaurus, but rather as the ability to verbalize the real sport situation in its development process in a most precise and adequate manner – so that the senses of words, notions, images and symbols were brief, compact, accurate and highly informative in describing the nature of the necessary actions to help understand and solve the intellectual problem of the subject athletic activity. The better the coaches understand the content of the verbalized intellectual demand of the adolescent athletes the more successful are the constituent motor actions in the subject activity structure.

Objective of the study was to identify the intellectual demand content of adolescent athletes and analyze their verbal intelligence manifestation trends in connection with the motor skill model image formation quality.

Methodology and structure of the study. The study was designed to explore the intellectual demands of adolescent athletes and the coaches’ opinions in the context of the coach’s verbal behavioural model geared to solve the intellectual/ process verbalization problems in the motor skill mastering process (based on free-form questionnaires); supported by the experts’ opinions agreement analysis (based on the Kendall's coefficient of concordance), with the test procedure thesaurus assessment under the Eysenck Verbal Intelligence (IQ) Test in application to the adolescents’ athletic skill improvement process; correlation analysis (using the Pearson's ( r) linear correlation coefficient)  in application to the verbal intellect components, motor skill mastering quality and social courage rates of the subject adolescents. Subject to the tests were 120 adolescent athletes from the Children’s and Youth Sport School (CYSS) and Special Children’s and Youth Sport School of Olympic Reserve (SCYSSOR); 30 sport educators; and 40 coaches from the same Sport Schools (see Table 1).

Study results and discussion. The respondents’ opinions under the study were found to be in a fairly good agreement, and they give us the grounds to find the test data provided by the Eysenck Verbal Intelligence Test being loosely connected with the senses of the sport training process in fact.

The following trends in the intellectual problem solving process were identified in the study:

(1) Pace of the problem solving activity is maintained high in the context of the process content being reasonably abstracted from the athletic activity, with the activity being supported by permanent volitional (insistent, determinant) and control (interference immunity based) abilities and due process motivations – with the intellectual problem being accepted as a conscious need. The mental mindsets in the problem solving process will be the following: mindset A: insistently and determinedly pursue the goal of “attaining the best possible individual result” (timeframe: 30 minutes of high-intensity intellectual performance rated by 124±4.5 points); mindset B: “perform every task with high quality” (timeframe: 30 minutes of above-the-average-intensity intellectual performance rated by 120±3.5 points).

( 2) The process pace and efficiency are slower due to the senses of the process being assumed as loosely connected with the direct content of the sport activity, with the motivational, cognitive, operational and functional components of the activity being driven by the perceived meaningfulness of the relevant senses. The mental mindsets in the problem solving process will be the following: mindset C: perform every accessible task to reach at least the lowest positive score (timeframe of 27.5±2.5 min, rated by 110±4 points); mindset D: select the easiest tasks solvable at no sacrifice for the task fulfilment rate (timeframe of 25±6.5 min, rated by 109±4 points); with the intellectual behaviour in the process being in need of timely educational corrections and updates of the personal performance senses to motivate the adolescent athlete.

Table 1. Thesaurus assessment data as per the expert opinions, under the Eysenck Verbal Intelligence (IQ) Test, p<0.01

Respondent group

(n = 100)

Eysenck Verbal Intelligence (IQ) Test

Makes contribution to the skills and knowledge supplementary to the subject sport activity (SA)

Reflects the thesaurus relevant to the subject sport activity

Shapes up the communicative skills for right situation-driven choice of term and definitions

Shapes up the analytical skills to analyze incoming verbal information in the sport-activity-centered format

Facilitates the following thinking process aspects:






Average score on the 5-point scale / Kendall's coefficient of concordance


0,4/ 0,65



0,4/ 0,65

0,5/ 0,65

0,6/ 0,65

1,8/ 0,65

0,8/ 0,65

0,8/ 0,65

3,3/ 0,65


1/ 0,58



1/ 0,58

1,6/ 0,58

1,9/ 0,58

2,3/ 0,58

0,8/ 0,58

0,8/ 0,58

2,4/ 0,58


1,6/ 0,54



1,6/ 0,54

1,7/ 0,54

2,7/ 0,54

0,5/ 0,54

0,7 /0,54

1,7/ 0,54

2,5/ 0,54

Note: I – teachers of sport/ educational disciplines from the relevant universities, n = 30; II – coaches from the Children’s and Youth Sport Schools, n = 40; III – adolescent athletes, n = 30

(3) Mindsets focused on the acceptable result are the following: mindset E: perform every accessible task at the average rate of intelligence with the motivation of “being no worse than the others” to demonstrate the mean formal performance efficiency being not really fully involved in the intellectual problem solving process (note that these athletes normally have larger untapped intellectual resources).

The following aspects need to be developed in the athletes having mindsets C, D and E: understand the criteria-based self-assessment apparatus formation chronology based on the efforts to model and design the process parameters and forecast the desired results; generalize and digest new knowledge and skills to make them a part of the personal subjective experience; realize in practice personal qualities; accept the extrinsic values into the intrinsic agenda and implement them in practical activity; objectivise the subjectively selected performance rating criteria; match the personal accomplishments with the model standards; forecast, comprehend and apply the desired result parameters to the result-focused performance process. Accomplishment in this context will be interpreted as personal values-driven result attained, conditional on the result parameters being compliant with the socially sensitive requirements to the sport activity [2].

We studied the educational demand of adolescent athletes (n=120) and coaches’ (n=30) opinions, with an emphasis on the substantial and sensual factors of the coach’s verbal action versus the choice percentage rates in the dialogue of a coach with an adolescent athlete; and we found the dialogue being sensually deficient in fact that means that the educational/ skill mastering process is poorly supported by efficient verbal and sensual education meanings and tools.

We would recommend the sensual modules having the following elements: (1) acmeology-based focus of educational senses (34; 35) – with highly-set goals, belief in success, motivation for victory, result-driven performance duly focused on the relevant ideas and ideals, deeply sensible and exemplary, providing a case to follow, integrating, consistent, focused, innovative, learning and connected sensual element; (2) completeness of the educational senses (27; 33) – meaning the substantial, competent, intelligent, intellectual, informed, complete, grounded, logical, reasonable and practical-experience-based sensual element; (3) broad exposition of the educational sense (24; 33) – meaning the multisided, graphic, creative, inventive sensual element; (4) correspondence to the leading sense of the activity/ performance (32; 33) – meaning the expedient, right, correct, faultless, highly potent in educational dimension, capacious, and situation-driven sensual element; (5) correspondence to the actual learning potential of the trainees (28; 31) – meaning the understandable, easy, intelligible, clear, reasonably paced sensual element; (6) due quality of exposition (21; 38) – meaning the clear, accurate and discriminating sensual element; (7) timing based (19; 27) – meaning the sequential, rightly timed to the education stage, calculated, precise, laconic, brief, empty-talk-free exposure element; (8) rating potential (28; 36) – meaning the assessing, criticizing, punctual, development-potential-mobilizing, free of negative aspects, encouraging, further progress facilitating, emotionally appreciating, initiative favouring element; (9) motivating potential of verbal assessment, 17 terms (31; 34); (10) potential of the employed volitional qualities, 12 terms (36; 41); (11) volitional context of a verbal action, 12 terms (32; 40); (12) emotional context of a verbal action, 22 terms (20; 41); (13) spiritual and ethical context of a verbal action, 25 terms (19; 41).

In a verbalized intellectual demand, due attention will be given to the personal expectations of the adolescent athlete as to the educational support in the most challenging episodes of the motor skill mastering process. The adolescent athletes’ motor action model will be more generalized, whilst the intellectual demand as a prime condition for the problem solution will be multisided and open to the educational potential of the motor skill mastering process being verbalized by the coach in the educational process; i.e. tapping the verbal intelligence development potential in the dialogue of a coach and an adolescent athlete.

Table 2. Verbal intelligence (VI) components interaction matrix versus the motor skill mastering quality and social courage rates of the adolescent athletes


Rates under analysis







Motor skill mastering quality







Manifestations of verbal intelligence

Scope of related applicable notions







Relevance of the notions to the structural components of the subject activity







Relevant intellectual demand content: substantive, specific, corresponding to the core sense, key link and/or details of the subject technique







Timeliness of the relevant intellectual demand being formulated and presented







Social courage rate






It is important to note in this context that timeliness of the relevant intellectual demand being formulated and presented is largely dependent on the personal social courage rate of the athlete. Verbal intelligence is generally developed through identification of notions and images in the personal verbal experience and through denotations of the subject sport activity requirements using the relevant thesaurus – more or less corresponding to the representative information processing system requirements – to verbalize the own “perceived images of the efforts in the correctly performed motor action and every operation in the sequence” [1].


Material content of the Eysenck Verbal Intelligence (IQ) Test is found largely irrelevant to the top priority intellectual problems of sport activity and rather characteristic of the meta-subjective fitness of the adolescent athlete for combinational and conceptual thinking on the whole. The analyzed trends in the practical intellectual problem solving process of the adolescent athletes show the importance of the initiatives to shape up the values-and-senses-centred, emotional, volitional, operational and functional components of the core sport activity. The initiatives to excel the coach’s reflexive culture and verbal support contexts of the educational process will help form consistent motor skill image models and mobilize the intellectual potential of an adolescent athlete.


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