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Benjamin Noël and Stefanie Klatt

Most studies on offside decision making in soccer have not addressed rather simplistic situational probabilities like the number of players involved in an offside situation. In three studies (one observational and two experimental), the authors tried to assess whether the number of players close to the offside situation can predict the quality of offside decision making. In all three studies, they found that the presence of additional players negatively affected the percentage of correct decisions. The exact relationship between the number of players and the decrease in decision-making performance differed between the studies, though. Importantly, there was a negative influence of the number of players on decision-making quality in Studies 2 and 3, even though the authors tried to add players clearly farther away from the offside line than the relevant pair of players. This points to a crowding effect as a potential explanation for why decision-making quality decreases with an increasing number of players.

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Stefanie Klatt and Nicholas J. Smeeton

In 2 experiments, the authors investigated the effects of bimodal integration in a sport-specific task. Beach volleyball players were required to make a tactical decision, responding either verbally or via a motor response, after being presented with visual, auditory, or both kinds of stimuli in a beach volleyball scenario. In Experiment 1, players made the correct decision in a game situation more often when visual and auditory information were congruent than in trials in which they experienced only one of the modalities or incongruent information. Decision-making accuracy was greater when motor, rather than verbal, responses were given. Experiment 2 replicated this congruence effect using different stimulus material and showed a decreasing effect of visual stimulation on decision making as a function of shorter visual stimulus durations. In conclusion, this study shows that bimodal integration of congruent visual and auditory information results in more accurate decision making in sport than unimodal information.

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Johannes Meyer, Frowin Fasold, Karsten Schul, Matthias Sonnenschein, and Stefanie Klatt

In fast-paced team sports, anticipation is one important element in defense strategies. The primary objective of this study was to examine the recommendation for action and use of defensive gaze strategies by defensive players in basketball. Four national-level expert-basketball coaches were interviewed and a field study with mobile eye-tracking devices was conducted on 16 expert and 16 novice players defending in a one-on-one situation. Differences in relative fixation times between experts and novices were elaborated for the predetermined gaze zones—head, ball, torso, and feet—as given by the expert coaches. This was done for three phases of the movement sequence: receiving, dribbling, and shooting. The results of the interviews with expert coaches indicated that the existing coaching doctrine instructs players to look at the torso of an opponent to avoid being vulnerable to fakes. Surprisingly, our findings with the players showed a discrepancy in the evaluated gaze behavior of the experts and novices. For the receiving and dribbling phase, experts mainly fixated their gaze on the head while novices focused on the ball. For the final shooting phase, both the groups mainly fixated their gaze on the ball. Fixating the gaze on the ball or head makes the player potentially vulnerable to deceptive movements, as video-based research has shown. Expert coaches also indicated that peripheral vision is of importance to defenders, contradicting the existing assumption in the literature that focusing on the task-relevant areas is key for anticipation performance.

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Lisa-Marie Rückel, Benjamin Noël, André Jungen, Sebastian Brückner, Bernd Strauss, and Stefanie Klatt

This study uses a thematic content analysis to analyze common stressors for volleyball referees, examine the individual triggered stress responses, and identify the applied coping strategies. A total of 38 German elite volleyball referees (24 male and 14 female, M age = 38.29 years, SD = 7.91 years) were considered for this study. Through the analysis, 17 stressful events, 14 stress responses, and 6 different coping strategies were identified and further clustered into four main dimensions. Common stressors among elite German volleyball referees were identified as stressful game situations, need for game management, situational environment, and demands on self-activation. These stressors triggered emotional stress reactions, cognitive stress reactions, changes in focus, and reactions among the test group after increased strain. In order to deal with these situations and emotions, referees applied self-regulation strategies, improved focus and concentration, searched for a solution, prepared for the match or a stressor, showed a confident appearance, and tried to accept and let go of mistakes or situations. Post hoc Pearson’s correlation analyses showed significant relationships between emotional and cognitive stress reactions with stressful game situations. Consequently, the role of coping with emotions and thoughts becomes essential for volleyball referees to remain focused and perform.