There is evidence that actions are planned by anticipation of their external effects, with the strength of this effect being dependent on the amount of prior practice. In Experiment 1, skilled soccer players performed a kicking task under four conditions: planning in terms of an external action effect (i.e., ball trajectory) or in terms of body movements, either with or without visual error feedback. When feedback was withheld, a ball focus resulted in more accurate outcomes than a body focus. When visual feedback was allowed, there was no difference between these two conditions. In Experiment 2, both skilled and novice soccer players were tested with the addition of a control condition and in the absence of visual feedback. For both groups there was evidence that a ball focus was more beneficial for performance than a body focus, particularly in terms of movement kinematics where correlations across the joints were generally higher for body rather than ball planning. Most skilled participants reported that ball planning felt more normal than body planning. These experiments provide some evidence that actions are planned in terms of their external action effects, supporting the common-coding hypothesis of action planning.
Ford and Williams are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, L3 2ET, UK. Hodges (corresponding author) is with the School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z1. Huys is with the Faculty of Sport Sciences, CNRS, University of the Mediterranean, Marseille, France.