Psycho-physiological predictors for success of education trajectories of junior ice hockey players

Dr.Biol., Associate Professor O.N. Belousova1
Dr.Hab., Professor V.I. Sivakov1
Associate Professor V.P. Maltsev1
1South Ural State Humanitarian Pedagogical University, Chelyabinsk


Keywords: CNS functionality, psycho-physiological predictors, sensorimotor integration, junior ice hockey players.


Background. Ice hockey is traditionally popular in Russia, with the national sport community being proud of its great success history. It is also traditional for the national junior ice hockey training systems to offer a few progress stages, with the 14-16 year-old age, for instance, requiring special approaches due to the specific maturing process ontogenesis including the visual-sensor system formation process with the further progress of synaptogenesis; myelinization of the visual channels; progressive transformations in the neural apparatus of the projection cortex; and the maturation process completion in the associative and motor zones of the cortex critical for the image reception and processing [6, 4]. This age is also crucial since it is the period for the sport career related decision making by the junior ice hockey players. The issue of the CNS functionality, attention and cognitive capacity of the junior ice hockey players versus their non-sporting peers from a general education school is of special interest in this age group.

Objective of the study was to obtain the CNS integrated functionality rates in the 15-16 year-old ice hockey players versus their non-sporting peers for the education trajectory efficiency analyzing purposes.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was designed to rate the CNS functionality, attention and cognitive capacity in the 15-16 years-old ice hockey players in the advanced specialization phase trained at Sport School #3 (form 9) in Chelyabinsk, referred to hereinafter as the Experimental Group (EG, n=28). The EG sport trainings took 2.5 hours per day, including 1.5 h of ice training and 1 h of gym training. Sampled for the Reference Group (RG, n=33) were their non-sporting peers from Secondary Education School #19 in Chelyabinsk.

The CNS functionality was tested by a computerized Research BioMouse (made by NeuroLab, Moscow) variation chrono-reflexometric express-test system. The nervous process lability and sensorimotor response stability was rated by the simple/ complex visual motor response tests (SVMRT, CVMRT), with the tests designed to rate responses to the variable-intensity light signals; and the cerebral homeostasis was tested by the T.D. Loskutova Test to obtain the CN system functionality, response stability and functional capacity rates (SFR, RSR and FCR, respectively).

Results and discussion. Having summarized the modern research findings in the sensorimotor integration domain i.e. motor and sensor process harmonizing on different levels of cerebral activity, S.V. Shutova at al. [6] demonstrated that the accuracy and speed of the simple/ complex visual motor response may be indicative of the relevant system progress; with one or another functioning system mobilizing and variation being dependent on the background CNS functionality [4, 5]. We applied these findings to rate the background psychomotor activity in the sample. Given in Table hereunder are the averaged sensorimotor response test rates of the sample.


Table 1.  Averaged sensorimotor response test rates: EG versus RG, M±m

Test rates

EG, n=28

RG, n=33






SFR, conventional units, c.u.




RSR, c.u




FCR, c.u.




Performance dependability, %








Wrong response incidence, %




CNS response delay time, ms




Note: SVMRT simple visual motor response time; CVMRT complex visual motor response rate; SFR system functionality rate; RSR response stability rate; FCR functional capacity rate


SVMRT may be used as a fair and objective cerebral process lability rate indicative of the CNS excitation/ inhibition dynamics. The EG was tested with the meaningfully lower SVMRT rates (F-criterion, р<0.001) than the RG. Having compared the SVMRT test data with the age-specific norms [2], we ranked the CNS excitation/ inhibition processes in the EG and RG as the highly and modestly labile, respectively. This finding may be interpreted as indicative of the neural mechanisms in the EG securing the higher sensor data processing and attention control rates than in the RG.

The SVMRT test data analysis using the T.D. Loskutova analyzing procedure (SFR, RSR and FCR) to obtain, among other things, the cognitive capacity rates – showed the high CNS functionality levels in the sample within the age-specific physiological range. The average SFR and RSR values were stable and normal within the sample [2], with the FCR values varying close to the upper limit of the normal range (stable high level) indicative of the excitation processes being dominant in the CNS. The EG test rates were still found somewhat higher than in the RG in line with the above correlation of the SVMRT test data.

Average control dependability rates i.e. the wrong-to-right response test ratios were found to agree with the functionality test data and vary within the high range of the norm in 95% of the sample (F-criterion, р=0.42). However, despite the wrong-to-right response test ratios (with the wrong responses including the missed and early responses) in the SVMR tests in the EG and RG (5.1±0.9 and 6.6±1.5, respectively, with р=0.054) being close enough, there were still some intergroup differences. Thus the micro-misses were tested only once in the EG, with the EG rate in this test being notably lower than in the RG (0.17±0.17 versus 28.9±0.92, with U-criterion, p =0.04). The early response rates were fairly close at 1.03±0.19 and 0.79±0.20 in the EG and RG, respectively (U-criterion, p=0.205), with the EG somewhat more prone to the early responses due to probably the high CNS excitability and activity. On the whole, the SVMR tests showed the test data arrays being sport-specific, with the error rates unsurprisingly tested higher in the non-sporting RG.

The CVMR tests make it possible to rate, in addition to the nervous process lability and excitation, differences in the cortical activity inhibition mechanisms. The CVMR test rates in the sample were found as group-specific as in the SVMR tests, i.e. the EG test rates were meaningfully (F-criterion, р<0.05) lower than in the RG, with the EG differential inhibition mechanism ranked more developed as verified by the somewhat lower (by 3.2%) error rates in the EG CVMR test. The RG was tested with a higher incidence of the wrong responses (wrong test buttons) than the EG (3.0±0.4 versus 2.4±0.3, respectively, р=0.17).

The central delay rate (i.e. the gap between the CVMR and SVMR test rates) is considered indicative of the data processing and decision-making process quality in the CNS in response to a test stimulus, conditional on the CNS functionality being within the norm. The sample was tested with relatively high sensor data processing ranges, with the EG delay rate still tested meaninglessly (р=0.46) lower than in the RG. It should be emphasized that the EG delay test data array was more consistent, with the variation range of 22.3% versus 32.0% in the RG.

The neuro-physiological qualities variability analyses showed the intergroup differences in the sample, with the EG tested with the notably higher progress in the functionality rates. As was found by the prior study [3], the meaningfully lower discretional reactivity rates in the junior ice hockey players in the sport excellence stage versus their non-sporting peers may be due to the combination of the selection criteria (with the most gifted prospects selected), with the already good qualities being further excelled by the sport-specific training processes.

Based on the findings of a prior study [1] and new test data, we have reasons to conclude that the psychomotor qualities of CNS verified by the relevant test rates may be viewed as its maturity criteria, with the mature CNS system being critical for the school progress of trainees. Therefore, further tests were designed to rate the school progress of the sample. Thus the cognitive test rates of the sample were analyzed versus the school progress statistics in mathematics – since the individual achievements in this school discipline are subject to obligatory final examinations on graduation from the secondary schools. For the purposes of the study we analyzed the average individual points of the sample in mathematics for the last three quarters, with the school progress rated high and low by the average points of 3.8-5.0 and 2.7-3.7, respectively. The sample progress was found group-specific, with the EG tested with much higher (by 25%) average school progress rate (71%) than the RG. In addition, the low-progress share in the RG (55%) was 26% higher than in the EG, with the data distribution consistency index (χ2= 4.179, with р=0.041) indicative of the meaningful intergroup differences in the school progress in mathematics. It may be concluded, therefore, that the CNS sport-specific development in the EG facilitates the group progress in at least the school mathematics discipline.

Conclusion. The training process was found to be of positive effect on the psychomotor processes in junior ice hockey players due to the fast cerebral data processing capacity and efficient decision-making in response to test signals, conditional on the optimal CNS functionality. The better adaptability of the athletes’ CNS and its contribution to the performance control was found to facilitate the school progress in mathematics.


The study was completed with support from Mordovia State Pedagogical Institute named after M.Y. Yevsevyev under the Psycho-physiological Profiling Driven Education Trajectory Design and Management Research Project.



  1. Gileva O.B. Izmenchivost vremeni reaktsii i akademicheskaya uspeshnost uchashchikhsya v raznykh shkolakh Ekaterinburga [Variability of students' reaction time and academic progress in different schools of Yekaterinburg]. Ekologiya cheloveka [Human Ecology], 2011, no. 10, pp. 22-28.

  2. Moroz M.P. Ekspress-diagnostika rabotosposobnosti i funktsionalnogo sostoyaniya cheloveka: metodicheskoe rukovodstvo [Express diagnostics of working capacity and functional status of individual} Teaching aid. St. Petersburg: IMATON, 2007, 40 p.

  3. Pavlova N.V. Rol psikhofiziologicheskikh pokazateley v adaptatsii k sportivnoy deyatelnosti khokkeistov 11-18 let [Role of psycho-physiological indicators in adaptation to sports activities of hockey players aged 11-18 years]. PhD diss.. Omsk, 2014, 151 p.

  4. Sivakov V.I., Aytkulov S.A., Cherkasov I.F. Kvantovy energeticheskiy metod v diagnostike i prognozirovanii uspeshnykh vystupleniy kvalifitsirovannykh sportsmenov [Quantum energy rating method for competitive performance forecasts in continental hockey league matches]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury, 2017, # 6, pp. 78-82.

  5. Smirnova V.S., Maltsev V.P. Gendernye osobennosti plastichnosti nervnykh protsessov mladshikh podrostkov 11-13 let [Gender features of plasticity of nervous processes of younger adolescents aged 11-13 years]. Novye issledovaniya, 2016, no. 1 (46), pp. 37-46.

  6. Shutova S.V., Muravyeva I.V. Sensomotornye reaktsii kak kharakteristika funktsionalnogo sostoyaniya TsNS [Sensomotor reactions as characteristic of CNS functionality]. Vestnik TGU, vol. 18, no. 5, 2013, pp. 2831- 2840.


Corresponding author:



Modern educational systems offer a wide range of customizable educational trajectories with variable mental and physical workloads. For success of the educational process modeling, the system should factor in the central nervous system (CNS) functionality and the relevant cognitive capacity. We rated the CNS functionality in the sample of the 15-16 year-old pupils of a general education school versus the junior ice hockey players at the advanced training stage. The relevant psycho-physiological test tools were used to obtain the integrated CNS functionality rates including the nervous process stability rates, sensorimotor response rates and indices of cerebral homeostasis. The test data and analyses showed the junior ice hockey players’ functionality indices being different from that of the non-sporting peers as verified by their meaningful advantage in the visual-motor response rates and the relatively perfect nervous process control/ inhibition mechanisms. The training process was found to be of positive effect on the psychomotor processes in junior athletes due to the fast cerebral data processing capacity and efficient decision-making in response to signals, conditional on the optimal CNS functionality. The better adaptability of the athletes’ CNS and its contribution to the performance control was found to facilitate the motor skills mastering process.