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Sports Neuropsychology With Diverse Athlete Populations: Contemporary Findings and Special Considerations

Christine M. Salinas and Frank M. Webbe

This paper aims to familiarize readers with the contemporary scientific literature available on sports concussion as it relates to populations divergent from adult males who play football and hockey. Herein, we focus on important issues such as age, gender, culture, language, sport type, and premorbid conditions (such as learning disabilities [LD] and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder [ADHD]) that can influence concussion incidence, severity, and recovery.

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Personality Traits Relate to Heading Frequency in Male Soccer Players

Frank M. Webbe and Shelley R. Ochs

Concussions in soccer are often coincident with the act of heading the ball, and some researchers have reported that soccer heading is associated with neurocoginitive decrements. This study aimed to understand (a) the personality factors that may predict frequent soccer heading, and (b) how knowledge of players’ personality traits might help sport counselors persuade neurologically at-risk players to moderate their heading behavior. Sixty elite male soccer players (ages 16-34) completed structured self-report interviews, the NEO-FFI personality inventory, and the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking. Players who headed most had significantly higher extraversion scores than comparison athletes and soccer players who headed less. Physical height was the best predictor of heading frequency but was not correlated with extraversion, which was also a significant predictor. Players with the typical profile of the high heading group may be more resistant to suggestion that they alter their style of play for safety reasons.

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The Epidemiology of Soccer Heading in Competitive Youth Players

Christine M. Salinas, Frank M. Webbe, and Trent T. Devore

We administered neurocognitive batteries to 49 youth soccer athletes (9–15 yr), who were selected from competitive soccer teams in Central Florida. We collected observational data on soccer heading, self-reported soccer heading, as well as demographics, including school, medical, and soccer history. Both the frequency and intensity of heading the ball in soccer was low in comparison with adolescents and adults. In our sample, the vast majority of soccer headings were of low to moderate intensity and direct (i.e., the incoming flight of the ball was perpendicular to the forehead). Age significantly correlated with frequent heading. Parents were reliable observers of their children’s soccer heading behavior and other at-risk behaviors during games. The majority of soccer headings were direct rather than flicks. Almost half of our participants reported headache and one-fourth reported dizziness after instances of heading the ball. Frequency of soccer heading was not related to neuropsychological score data.