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Training anticipatory skill in a natural setting of cricket batting through selective visual occlusion: A preliminary investigation

Müller, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-5777-4953, Abernethy, B., Farrow, D. and Tor, E. (2010) Training anticipatory skill in a natural setting of cricket batting through selective visual occlusion: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12 (Supp. 2). e14-e15.

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Introduction: Expert cricket batsmen have a superior capability to anticipate ball types from the actions’ of bowlers. The purpose of this experiment was to determine the degree of perception and action coupling required to gain anticipatory training benefits in club level cricket batsmen through selective visual occlusion.

Methodology: Eighteen batsmen of club standard were recruited from three different clubs to form three equal groups, with six, three and six participants retained per group, respectively. Vision occlusion spectacles, worn by the batsman, were used to train anticipation through progressive occlusion of vision of the bowler's action and ball flight to balls delivered by swing bowlers. In addition to club practice, group one (perception–action coupled) batted against bowlers and attempted to strike delivered balls, whilst group two (perception only) stood behind a practice net and made a verbal prediction of ball type. Group three (control) participated only in club practice. Intervention groups received one session of approximately 20 min duration over a 6 week period. A pre and post test design was used where the batsmen attempted to strike balls delivered by swing bowlers whilst their vision was occluded through spectacles either just prior to ball release, just prior to ball bounce or not at all. In test and training phases, the bowlers delivered three different ball types; a full length outswinger, a full length inswinger and a short length ball. Dependent measures included number of correct definitive foot movements and ‘good’ bat–ball contacts.

Results/discussion: In relation to foot movements, for full length deliveries, group one attained a significantly superior number of correct definitive foot movements to group three, but not group two, in the post-test across all vision conditions. For short length deliveries, only group one significantly improved their foot positioning under the prior to ball release condition. In relation to ‘good’ bat–ball contacts, for full length deliveries, only group one showed significant improvement from pre to post tests under the no occlusion condition. For short length deliveries, group one and two showed a trend for improvement in contacts across all vision conditions, whilst group three showed no improvement. The results indicate that greater anticipatory training benefits are found when perception–action is coupled, however, perception only training appears also beneficial. Implications for coupled and uncoupled anticipatory training in the natural skill setting will be discussed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2009 Elsevier Ltd
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