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Anticipation of penalty kicking direction can be improved by directing attention through perceptual learning

Savelsbergh, Geert and van Gastel, Peter and van Kampen, Paulien M. (2010) Anticipation of penalty kicking direction can be improved by directing attention through perceptual learning. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 41 (1). pp. 24-41. ISSN 0047-0767

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to improve the estimation of the direction of the ball during penalty kicks by changing the visual search behaviour. Inexperienced goalkeepers divided into three groups moved a joystick in response to penalty kick situations presented on a large screen in pre-test, training and post-test phases of an experiment. The perceptual learning group practised with film clips that were edited to highlight relevant information in the run-up sequence of the kicker. The training group practised with the same film clips but without any highlights. A third group served as control and only performed the pre- and post-tests. The results showed that the visual search behaviour of the perceptual training group changed significantly and improved the initiation of the joystick movement. This initiation coincided with the timing of the most important visual information and led to significantly better performance than the other two groups (i.e. more penalties were stopped).

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