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  • Author: Bruce Abernethy x
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Bruce Abernethy and David G. Russell

Two experiments are described comparing the temporal and spatial characteristics of the anticipatory cues used by expert (n=20) and novice (n=35) racquet sport players. In both experiments the perceptual display available in badminton was simulated using film, and display characteristics were selectively manipulated either by varying the duration of the stroke sequence that was visible (Experiment 1) or by selectively masking specific display features (Experiment 2). The subjects* task in all cases was to predict the landing position of the stroke they were viewing. It was found in Experiment 1 that experts were able to pick up more relevant information from earlier display cues than could novices, and this appeared in Experiment 2 to be due to their ability to extract advance information from the playing side arm, in addition to the racquet itself. These differences, it was concluded, were congruent with predictions that could be derived from traditional information-processing notions related to recognition of display redundancy. The roles of different anticipatory cue sources in the independent predictions of stroke speed and direction were also examined, and it was concluded that directional judgments were more dependent on cue specificity than were depth judgments.

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Jason Berry, Bruce Abernethy and Jean Côté

The developmental histories of 32 players in the Australian Football League (AFL), independently classified as either expert or less skilled in their perceptual and decision-making skills, were collected through a structured interview process and their year-on-year involvement in structured and deliberate play activities retrospectively determined. Despite being drawn from the same elite level of competition, the expert decision-makers differed from the less skilled in having accrued, during their developing years, more hours of experience in structured activities of all types, in structured activities in invasion-type sports, in invasion-type deliberate play, and in invasion activities from sports other than Australian football. Accumulated hours invested in invasion-type activities differentiated between the groups, suggesting that it is the amount of invasion-type activity that is experienced and not necessarily intent (skill development or fun) or specificity that facilitates the development of perceptual and decision-making expertise in this team sport.

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Damian Farrow, Bruce Abernethy and Robin C. Jackson

Two experiments were conducted to examine whether the conclusions drawn regarding the timing of anticipatory information pick-up from temporal occlusion studies are influenced by whether (a) the viewing period is of variable or fixed duration and (b) the task is a laboratory-based one with simple responses or a natural one requiring a coupled, interceptive movement response. Skilled and novice tennis players either made pencil-and-paper predictions of service direction (Experiment 1) or attempted to hit return strokes (Experiment 2) to tennis serves while their vision was temporally occluded in either a traditional progressive mode (where more information was revealed in each subsequent occlusion condition) or a moving window mode (where the visual display was only available for a fixed duration with this window shifted to different phases of the service action). Conclusions regarding the timing of information pick-up were generally consistent across display mode and across task setting lending support to the veracity and generalisability of findings regarding perceptual expertise in existing laboratory-based progressive temporal occlusion studies.

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Juanita Weissensteiner, Bruce Abernethy, Damian Farrow and Sean Müller

The link between the anticipation skills of cricket batsmen and their practice histories was examined. Skilled and lesser skilled batsmen of U15, U20, and adult age completed a temporal occlusion task, in which they were required to use prerelease kinematic information to predict the type and length of delivery being bowled, and a structured interview, in which their accumulated hours of experience in organized and unorganized sporting activities were estimated. Skilled adult and U20 players showed an ability to use prerelease kinematic information to anticipate ball type that was not evident among any other group, and skilled players of all ages were distinguishable in terms of their accumulated hours of cricket-specific experience. Hours of cricket-spe-cific practice, however, explained only a modest percentage of the variance in anticipatory skill. Discussion focuses upon future refinements to the measurement of anticipation and practice history plus the role that variables other than the quantum of cricket experience may play in developing anticipation.

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Daniel T. Bishop, Michael J. Wright, Robin C. Jackson and Bruce Abernethy

The aim of this study was to examine the neural bases for perceptual-cognitive superiority in a soccer anticipation task using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Thirty-nine participants lay in an MRI scanner while performing a video-based task in which they predicted an oncoming opponent’s movements. Video clips were occluded at four time points, and participants were grouped according to in-task performance. Early occlusion reduced prediction accuracy significantly for all participants, as did the opponent’s execution of a deceptive maneuver; however, high-skill participants were significantly more accurate than their low-skill counterparts under deceptive conditions. This perceptual-cognitive superiority was associated with greater activation of cortical and subcortical structures involved in executive function and oculomotor control. The contributions of the present findings to an existing neural model of anticipation in sport are highlighted.