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Thomas Heinen

The goal of this study was to investigate the visual spotting hypothesis in 10 experts and 10 apprentices as they perform back aerial somersaults from a standing position with no preparatory jumps (short flight duration condition) and after some preparatory jumps with a flight time of 1s (long flight duration condition). Differences in gaze behavior and kinematics were expected between experts and apprentices and between experimental conditions. Gaze behavior was measured using a portable and wireless eye-tracking system in combination with a movement-analysis system. Experts exhibited a smaller landing deviation from the middle of the trampoline bed than apprentices. Experts showed higher fixation ratios during the take-off and flight phase. Experts exhibited no blinks in any of the somersaults in both conditions, whereas apprentices showed significant blink ratios in both experimental conditions. The findings suggest that gymnasts can use visual spotting during the back aerial somersault, even when the time of flight is delimited. We conclude that knowledge about gaze–movement relationships may help coaches develop specific training programs in the learning process of the back aerial somersault.

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Cornelia Frank, Gian-Luca Linstromberg, Linda Hennig, Thomas Heinen and Thomas Schack

A team’s cognitions of interpersonally coordinated actions are a crucial component for successful team performance. Here, we present an approach to practice team action by way of imagery and examine its impact on team cognitions in long-term memory. We investigated the impact of a 4-week team action imagery intervention on futsal players’ mental representations of team-level tactics. Skilled futsal players were assigned to either an imagery training group or a no imagery training control group. Participants in the imagery training group practiced four team-level tactics by imagining team actions in specific game situations for three times a week. Results revealed that the imagery training group’s representations were more similar to that of an expert representation after the intervention compared with the control group. This study indicates that team action imagery training can have a significant impact on players’ tactical skill representations and thus order formation in long-term memory.