Visual Strategies Underpinning the Spatiotemporal Demands During Visuomotor Tasks in Predicting Ball Direction

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Alessandro PirasDepartment of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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Matthew A. TimmisCambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences (CCSES), School of Psychology and Sport Science, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Aurelio TrofèDepartment for Life Quality Studies, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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Milena RaffiDepartment of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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We investigated gaze behavior of expert goalkeepers during the prediction of penalty kicks in different spatiotemporal constraints: penalties taken from 11 and 6 m. From 11 m, goalkeepers were more successful in predicting ball direction, with longer movement time initiation and a visual strategy with more fixations and greater saccade rates than penalties from 6 m, where they exhibited fewer fixations with higher microsaccade rates. As long as the opponent’s distance is large and time pressure low, gaze can be frequently shifted between the kicker’s body and the ball, due to the low cost of saccades. Conversely, when the objects are close, there is increased reliance on foveal and parafoveal information. In conclusion, when the spatiotemporal constraint is less severe, goalkeepers adopt a visual strategy with more fixations and small saccades. When the spatiotemporal constraint is more severe, they rely on peripheral vision to monitor kickers’ movements through the use of microsaccades.

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