Training Perceptual Skill
A review of perceptual abilities in athletes by Williams and Grant (1999) indicates that elite athletes do not have superior visual ability and that training vision does not improve sports performance. However, skilled athletes have better perceptual skills and are more capable of selectively attending to, recognizing, analyzing, and interpreting incoming visual information; they can recognize and recall playing patterns more quickly and accurately; they are better at anticipating their opponent’s behaviors through efficient visual search strategies; and they are more accurate in their expectations of their opponent’s reactions. Williams and Grant (1999) indicate that perceptual abilities can 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.
Anxiety and Performance
Anxiety can affect sports performance positively or negatively. Terry and Slade’s (1995) review of anxiety in the sports literature indicated that an increase in irrational thoughts related to anxiety will decrease performance and that an optimal level of anxiety improves performance whereas too much anxiety will decrease performance. Each athlete needs to find their prime intensity level that is most optimal to performance. Research has found that not only can the level of anxiety predict the outcome of competition, but that martial arts training appears to decrease overall anxiety.