A 1999 study by Williams and Elliott, Anxiety, expertise, and visual search strategy in karate, found that when visually scanning an opponent for movement, the most efficient pattern is one with fewer fixations of longer durations. Expert fighters fixed their gaze on opponent’s head and central body, while using peripheral scanning the hands and feet. The anxiety of competition tends to cause an increase in search rate and an increase in the amount of time spent fixating on the periphery. It causes a decrease in viewing time overall and an increase in response accuracy. Under anxiety conditions, novices reduced fixation duration whereas experts increased the length of fixation duration. Novices also increased the number of fixations and the number of fixation locations
A 1999 study by Williams and Grant, Training perceptual skill in sport, found that elite athletes do not have superior visual ability and that training vision does not improve sports performance. However, skilled athletes do:
- Have better perceptual skills and are more capable of selectively attending to, recognizing, analyzing, and interpreting incoming visual information.
- May recognize and recall playing patterns more quickly and accurately.
- Are better at anticipating their opponent’s behaviors through efficient visual search strategies.
- Are more accurate in their expectations of their opponent’s reactions.
The study also found that that perceptual abilities may be trained by using simulation, such as watching videos from the competitor’s perspective, stopping the video prior to critical interactions, and having the viewer predict the reaction or have the viewer react physically based on the prediction.
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