Master's Thesis

Assessing Perceptual-Cognitive Skills in Soccer Using Computer Generated Imaging


12/2018 – 06/2019


According to Casanova et al. Pattern Recognition and Recall (PRR) is one of the most relevant perceptual-cognitive skills for decision making in sports [1]. In terms of the recall paradigm, performance is measured as the level of agreement between priori-identified features of stimuli (e.g. players position) and the athlete’s recall of those features. In contrast to that, recognition as a perceptual skill is determined by the ability of athletes to recognize whether a specific action sequence has been experienced previously [5]. Reflective methods like interviews and questionnaires are currently used as well as automated computer-based systems to standardise assessment procedures for those skills and hence generate objective metrics to determine an athlete’s performance [2]. Even though current approaches tend to simulate real game experiences (mostly 2D), they lack realism. One reason for this is low immersion of the users caused by missing depth perception. Since previous literature suggests real world experiences for an optimal assessment and training condition, neglecting stereoscopic based depth perception is a major issue for current simulation-based performance measurements in sports [4]

Recent advances in virtual and augmented reality hardware technology have brought this immersive medium to a broad acceptance with a major interest also coming from the area of healthcare and sports. This is not only due to its advance in terms of wearability and usability, but also the increased immersiveness of experiences to the user. Applying virtual reality to a scientific context gives researchers the possibility to create highly realistic (i.e. Depth perception due to stereoscopic vision) and controllable (i.e. tracking of participant and digital objects) environments.

It is the goal of this thesis to explore the applicability of virtualreality in the area of PRR assessment for soccer players. In particular, this work should focus on the exploration, development and evaluation of assessment methods for the recall and recognition paradigm based on computer generated images. To do so, different soccer sequences will be designed by sport science experts. Based on those, an animated virtual reality will be developed and implemented that enables the evaluation of objective performance indicators (i.e. head activity, error rate, level of immersion) which should be correlated to the athlete’s overall skill level [3].


  1. Casanova, Filipe, et al. “Expertise and perceptual-cognitive performance in soccer: a review.” Revista Portuguesa de Ciências do Desporto 9.1 (2009): 115-122.
  2. van Maarseveen, Mariëtte J J et al. “Perceptual-cognitive skill and the in situ performance of soccer players” Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006) vol. 71,2 (2016): 455-470.
  3. Perceptual-Cognitive Expertise in Sport: A Meta-Analysis Derek T.Y. Mann, A. Mark Williams, Paul Ward, and Christopher M. Janelle Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 2007 29:4, 457-478
  4. Markus Wirth et al. 2018. Assessment of Perceptual-Cognitive Abilities among Athletes in Virtual Environments: Exploring Interaction Concepts for Soccer Players. In Proceedings of the 2018 Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1013-1023.
  5. Williams AM, Davids K (1995). Declarative knowledge in sport: a by-product of exper