In partnership with Athletic Intelligence Measures, The 33rd Team features a weekly article on Sports Psychology and its effect on performance within the sport of football.
Athletic Intelligence Measures consists of three individuals, Drs. Scott Goldman, Jim Bowman, and Alex Auerbach. Together, the triumvirate spent 15 years creating the Athletic Intelligence Quotient (AIQ), which identifies an athlete’s mental strengths and weaknesses to aid coaches, management, and player personnel.
Each week, we discuss an important aspect of Sports Psychology with Dr. Goldman that can help football coaches, management, and player personnel learn what Sports Psychology really is, and learn how best to put it into practice.
At 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds with impressive strength and mobility, it is easy to identify that Kansas City Chiefs All-Rookie right guard Trey Smith has an exceptional physical profile.
What many may not be able to see is that Smith’s impressive array of cognitive abilities is a key ingredient to his success.
Although Smith fell to the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft — in part due to a 2018 health scare with blood clots in his lungs — he secured the starting right guard position for the defending AFC Champions in Week 1 and has not relinquished the role. He’s been lauded as one of the best value picks of the draft and is on his way to becoming a long-term fixture on the Chiefs offensive line.
If you had read Trey Smith’s Athletic Intelligence Quotient (AIQ) profile before the draft, you may have seen this coming.
“Trey Smith’s Full Scale AIQ Score of 114 is incredibly strong and exceptional for an offensive lineman,” Dr. Scott Goldman says. “It would put him in the top 5% of offensive linemen who have taken an AIQ test.
“What Trey’s test results suggest is that his cognitive abilities are likely contributing to his immediate success. And, research suggests it may contribute to his career longevity.”
Studies have shown that players who score high on the AIQ get on the field sooner, and stay on the field longer, so his early success did not surprise Dr. Goldman, even as a late-round draft pick.
While AIQ reports typically aid coaches and decision makers to put a player in a position to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, Smith did not actually have any measured cognitive deficiencies. Instead, his AIQ recommendations suggest how coaching staffs can build on his exceptional cognitive abilities.
Although Athletic Intelligence Measures normally does not disclose or share AIQ scores publicly, Trey Smith met with Dr. Goldman and The 33rd Team Editor-in-Chief Cyril Penn to review the data before giving his permission.
Looking at Smith’s reaction time below, a score of 120 is superior considering that an average score hovers around 100.
Plus, Smith is also accurate, and that highly accurate reaction time has shown to statistically correlate to fewer pre-snap penalties. With offensive and defensive linemen, the player who gets his hands on the opponent first often wins. Having such a quick reaction time helps him get off the snap quickly and get control of the other player’s chest. The fact that Smith is so accurate as well allows him to do so without committing false start penalties.
Smith’s high visual spatial processing score seen below is also particularly helpful for an offensive lineman.
“Smith has very high spatial awareness, which is knowing where you are in relation to other people,” Dr. Goldman says. “He also has a high navigation score, suggesting that he finds efficient ways from point A to point B well. Above that, a high manipulation rotation score means that he sees the flow of the game unfold in his mind’s eye.”
With an amazing ability to read and recognize what is going on and find an efficient path in a split second, the AIQ would expect Smith to be a great pulling guard and second level blocker who does not get lost on his way to finding the next defender to block. The Chiefs often use him to do exactly that, as they call the fourth-most counter runs of any team in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
Looking toward the bottom of the test we have the decision-making section, which is the ability to look for new details and make quick and accurate decisions.
“Say you look at the defensive linemen across from you and you’re seeing minute details with his foot placement or hand placement,” Dr. Goldman says. “A player like Trey Smith is going to recognize that as notable and important information, and he’s going to know what that means.”
That leads to the last bucket which is learning efficiency, one’s ability to download and recall information.
With a superior learning efficiency score, the AIQ suggests that Smith is able to quickly pick up the playbook and understand in-depth information found in the playbook. His high score here should be of no surprise considering that he showed enough playbook aptitude to Andy Reid to become a Week 1 starter as a rookie.
“Trey Smith is in the NFL, so I’m sure he has a lot of impressive qualities that go beyond his AIQ test score. But his AIQ is remarkable and should be an asset,” Dr. Goldman says. “As new game plans evolve and his body and mind change via age, injury, and wisdom, the AIQ suggests that Trey will be able to adapt and grow as well.
“Intelligence is a great predictor of success and career longevity, as it helps people find new solutions and creative ways to get the job done when initial methods are no longer available, such as a player who has lost a step over time. We published a white paper that indicates the AIQ significantly correlates with career longevity in the NFL, which is consistent with literature and job success research.”
You can find more information about Dr. Scott Goldman’s company Athletic Intelligence Measures here. If you would like to learn more about implementing sport psychology into your program, please email him at [email protected]