The effects of skill-level and playing-position on the anticipation of ball-bounce in rugby union

Runswick, Oliver R., Green, Richard and North, Jamie S. (2020) The effects of skill-level and playing-position on the anticipation of ball-bounce in rugby union. Human Movement Science, 69. pp. 1-10. ISSN 0167-9457

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The ability to anticipate is a defining feature of skilled sports performance. To date, research investigating the information that underpins skilled anticipation has focused on kinematic information from an opponent and contextual factors. However, there has been a paucity of research investigating the influence of ball-flight and spin. Oval shaped balls, despite the seeming random nature, do in fact display specific bounce characteristics based on the nature of ball-flight. We tested the ability of 38 professional (categorised in to 15 ‘backs’ and 23 ‘forwards’ based on their playing position) and 20 less-skilled rugby union players to anticipate ball bounce direction for grubber and chip kicks using a temporal occlusion paradigm to restrict access to different sources of information. We predicted that skilled performers would have become attuned to both advance postural cues and the physical laws of ball flight and spin that govern ball bounce through their extensive practice and exposure to these situations, and so would anticipate more accurately than less-skilled performers. Results supported this hypothesis as skilled participants outperformed less-skilled in all occlusion conditions, however all groups anticipated more accurately with access to later emerging information sources (i.e., ball spin and rotation) with the skill level difference primarily underpinned by earlier available sources (i.e., advance postural cues). There was no difference between anticipation accuracy in professional forwards and backs and no kick type x group interaction, suggesting that the knowledge structures underpinning perceptual-cognitive expertise are not position specific. Findings have implication for models of anticipation and training design and tactics in rugby.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Expertise, Perceptual-cognitive skills, Rugby, Anticipation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Research Centres > CCASES
Departments > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Oliver Runswick
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 14:23
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 14:23

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