The effects of anxiety and expertise on visual search strategy in karate were examined. Expert and novice karate performers moved in response to taped karate offensive sequences presented under low (LA) and high anxiety (HA). Expert performers exhibited superior anticipation under LA and HA. No differences were observed between groups in number of fixations, mean fixation duration, or total number of fixation locations per trial. Participants displayed scan paths ascending and descending the centerline of the body, with primary fixations on head and chest regions. Participants demonstrated better performance under HA than under LA. Anxiety had a significant effect on search strategy, highlighted by changes in mean fixation duration and an increase in number of fixations and total number of fixation locations per trial. Increased search activity was more pronounced in novices, with fixations moving from central to peripheral body locations. These changes in search strategy with anxiety might be caused by peripheral narrowing or increased susceptibility to peripheral distractors.
A. Mark Williams and David Elliott are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2ET, UK.