chapter  22
8 Pages

A perception-action perspective on learning and practice in racket sports

ByG.J.P. SAVELSBERGH, F. RIVAS AND J. VAN DER KAMP

Competitive sports such as tennis and badminton require the players to receive and return a fast-moving ball or shuttle in one and the same action. Key to success is to intercept the ball at the right place at the right time and to apply the right amount of force to project it to the desired location. Because of the speed of the game together with the intrinsic limitations in the player’s movement times, it is hard to imagine that sportsmen can completely rely on ball/shuttle flight information. Many have therefore concluded that information arising prior to ball flight is pertinent for successful interception. Perceptual skill thus encompasses the ability to make accurate predictions from partial or incomplete advance sources of visual information (Poulton, 1957). In other words, the ability to anticipate future ball or shuttle position is a crucial skill in peak performance. In recent years, the anticipation capability of athletes with different levels of expertise is studied by means of occlusion of visual information in the event and/or by recording the visual search behaviour of these players. The chapter discusses the players’ anticipation behaviour from a perception-action perspective. The aim is to illustrate that it is important to identify the visual information used and, to examine how different levels of players use the visual information. This contribution will be concluded with some practical suggestion for coaching in racket sports.