Exploring the Merits of Perceptual Anticipation in the Soccer Penalty Kick

in Motor Control
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This study investigated whether soccer penalty-takers can exploit predictive information from the goalkeeper’s actions. Eight low- and seven high-skilled participants kicked balls in a penalty task with the goalkeeper’s action displayed on a large screen. The goalkeeper initiated his dive either before, at or after the ball was struck. The percentage of balls shot to the empty half of the goal was not above chance when the participants could only rely on predictive information. Gaze patterns suggested that the need to fixate the target location to maintain aiming accuracy hindered perceptual anticipation. It is argued that penalty-takers should select a target location in advance of the run-up to the ball and disregard the goalkeeper’s actions.

Van der Kamp is with VU University—Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.

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