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Skill and role-specific differences in eye movement behaviour between goal keepers and field players in field hockey‥

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A large number of studies have reported that experts employ more economical visual search strategies than novices, fixating on fewer and more meaningful regions of the display. Contradictory evidence has been presented contending that differences in the way expert and novice groups process visual information is not necessarily evident in their overt visual search behaviour. The aim of this research is to explore the subtle gradations of elite visual behaviour that may be evident as an athlete progresses from elite level junior competition to elite level open age competition

Twenty six hockey players participated in the study from 3 national competition levels Under18s (n=9, x =18.1±0.7 years), Under 21s (n=9, x =19.0±1.3 years) and Australian Hockey League (AHL) players (n=8, x =21.3±2.6 years). 120 action sequences consisting of 40 drag flicks, 40 slaps and 40 pushes, were recorded in stereoscopic video format using two PAL DV progressive scan cameras (720x576; 25 f.p.s.).

No differences in response accuracy (RA) between skill groups (AHL, U21, U18) by occlusion time (OT) were found (F(2,25) = 0.65; p > 0.05), indicating that RA was not a function of playing experience. Further, no differences in RA by player position groups (GK, FP) were found (F(1,25) = 0.02; p > 0.05), indicating the hypothesis that goal keepers had a task specific advantage in the anticipation of drag flicks compared to slaps or pushes should be rejected. Overall, the data supports the hypothesis that the rate of saccadic eye movements is related to the playing experience, and specific expertise of the hockey players in our cohort.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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