Eye Tracking Soccer Penalty Kicks

Background image

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge investigated how a soccer kicker’s visual search strategy is affected during different types of penalty kicks.

Challenge

Completing an action in a fast or ballistic manner is coupled with reduced accuracy (termed the speed-accuracy trade-off). To avoid impacting the quality with which the football is kicked when taking a soccer penalty kick, precise foot-to-ball contact is required.

During a power penalty, there is greater risk of foot-to-ball contact being compromised, which may affect the visual search behavior of the kicker, causing them to fixate at the football for longer in order to retain some element of control/accuracy in the kick.

Solution

Point of gaze data recorded with the SMI Eye Tracking Glasses system were analyzed using SMI BeGaze software by mapping point of gaze onto relevant predefined areas of interest (the ball, different sections of the goal, the goalkeeper etc.).

Researchers found that during a power penalty kick, players fixated on the football for longer, and more often at the middle of the goal (where the goalkeeper stood). This resulted in the penalty being kicked more centrally in the goal. In contrast, in the placement penalty, players fixated longer at the edges of the goal and kicked wider towards the corners.

SMI Eye Tracking

SMI Eye Tracking Glasses with a mobile recorder are designed to record natural user interaction.

Benefit

With the findings highlighting that you ‘kick where you look’, this has implications for practicing football coaches. The role of eye movements in preparing and executing sporting tasks is a current area of research.

Understanding the connection between motor tasks and visual search strategies is beneficial to cognition scientists as well as to sports coaches.

Background

The Sport and Exercise Science Research Group (SESRG) at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (UK) investigated how a soccer kicker’s visual search strategy is affected during different types of penalty kicks.

Two distinct kicking strategies are assumed for a penalty shot: A power technique whereby the football is kicked with maximum power, which subsequently results in a high ball velocity. The alternative is a placement technique, which aims to accurately kick the football to an area of the goal that the goalkeeper cannot easily reach, i.e. the corners of the goal.

Investigating 96 penalty kicks from 12 University footballers, researchers found different visual search strategies for the two different kinds of kicks.

Previous research has shown that within the same sport, different scenarios affect visual search patterns. The aim of this study was to investigate the end location of the ball (where it landed within the goal) and the kicker’s visual search strategy when taking a power penalty kick compared to a placement penalty kick.

Benefit

With the findings highlighting that you ‘kick where you look’, this has implications for practicing football coaches. The role of eye movements in preparing and executing sporting tasks is a current area of research.

Understanding the connection between motor tasks and visual search strategies is beneficial to cognition scientists as well as to sports coaches.

Customer institution Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge
Customer name Matthew Timmis
Customer website www.anglia.ac.uk
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