The AIQ is based on the fundamental principles of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory of intelligence. This theory has been widely investigated and applied in various fields. Neurocognitive research has provided strong evidence for the structure of CHC theory and developmental research has further established that the factor structure of the CHC theory remains constant throughout the lifespan. Perhaps most notably, CHC theory has served as a foundation for significant revisions made to both intelligence tests and academic achievement tests. For instance, a review of changes made in current versions of the most commonly used intelligence tests (e.g., Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 4th Edition) reveals the addition of measures tapping abilities emphasized in CHC theory.

Previous research has established correlations between specific CHC abilities and occupational success in a wide range of occupations (e.g., architect, pilot, lawyer, accountant, etc.). To date, however, CHC theory has not been applied to the measurement of mental abilities and processes considered essential in elite athletes. One of the benefits of applying this theory to the domain of sports is that it provides a standard language that researchers, theorists, coaches, and athletes can use to discuss the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of athletes. Even more importantly, however, is that by using CHC theory as a framework, there is an existing evidence base for conclusions drawn about athletes’ specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, these conclusions can be drawn with confidence. For instance, research into CHC abilities has demonstrated that individuals with strong visual spatial processing skills are more likely to be successful as pilots or engineers (Lohman, 1994; Dawis, 1994). In a similar way, individuals with more accumulated verbal knowledge (i.e., Crystallized Intelligence) are likely to experience greater success as professors, scientists, and lawyers (Gardner, 1994: Ackerman & Heddestad, 1997).

It has been proposed that the Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Intelligence includes between 10-12 broad intellectual or cognitive abilities, which are each comprised of several narrow abilities. The interested reader may refer to Flanagan, Ortiz, Alfonso, & Mascolo (2006) for more details. Based on the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence, there are specific intellectual abilities directly related to athletic performance in real game situations. The CHC abilities measured by the AIQ do not include verbal ability, reading comprehension, or mathematical skills, which are measured by the Wonderlic Test. These types of abilities were not included in the AIQ because they have not been shown to relate to athletic performance (Mirabile, 2005).

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