Visual cues, temporal factors and motor control in soccer penalty kick  

Pin A., Agostini T., Galmonte A., Righi G., Gherzil A., Bianchi B.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

Experimental sport psychology studies cognitive processes underlying performance with the aim of its optimization. Twenty goalkeepers were tested by using a temporal occlusion paradigm. The experimental variable was the amount of visual information provided by the penalty kicker during the run-up. Fifteen kickers shot 40 penalties, 10 for each of 4 sectors in which the goal was divided. At the centre of each sector a light bulb marked the target zone. In the baseline condition, the kickers were told in advance where to kick, while in the other conditions they started the run-up without knowing where to shoot. The temporal gap between the visual stimulus presentation and the foot-ball contact was set on 3 anticipation levels: RT (kicker’s reaction time), RT + 300 ms, and RT + 600 ms. Results show that the best goalkeepers' performance corresponded to the baseline condition, whilst a performance decrease was observed for RT condition. The results underline the relevance of available visual cues and of the temporal factors connected to efficiency of anticipation skills.