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How soccer players head the ball: a test of optic acceleration cancellation theory with virtual reality

By P McLeod, N Reed, S Gilson and Andrew Glennerster


We measured the movements of soccer players heading a football in a fully immersive virtual reality environment. In mid-flight the ball’s trajectory was altered from its normal quasi-parabolic path to a linear one, producing a jump in the rate of change of the angle of elevation of gaze (α) from player to ball. One reaction time later the players adjusted their speed so that the rate of change of α increased when it had been reduced and reduced it when it had been increased. Since the result of the player’s movement was to regain a value of the rate of change close to that before the disturbance, the data suggest that the players have an expectation of, and memory for, the pattern that the rate of change of α will follow during the flight. The results support the general claim that players intercepting balls use servo control strategies and are consistent with the particular claim of Optic Acceleration Cancellation theory that the servo strategy is to allow α to increase at a steadily decreasing rate

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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