Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 206, Issue 4, pp 409–417 | Cite as

Catching a gently thrown ball

  • Joan López-MolinerEmail author
  • Eli Brenner
  • Stefan Louw
  • Jeroen B. J. Smeets
Research Article


Several studies have shown that people can catch a ball even if it is visible only during part of its flight. Here, we examine how well they can do so. We measured the movements of a ball and of the hands of both the thrower and the catcher during one-handed underarm throwing and catching. The catcher’s sight was occluded for 250 ms at random moments. Participants could catch most balls without fumbling. They only really had difficulties if vision was occluded before the ball was released and was restored less than 200 ms before the catch. In such cases, it was impossible to accurately predict the ball’s trajectory from motion of the ball and of the thrower’s hand before the occlusion, and there was not enough time to adjust the catching movement after vision was restored. Even at these limits, people caught most balls quite adequately.


Interception Motor control Time to contact 



The first author was supported by grants SEJ2007-60488/PSIC and PR2007-0400 from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Spanish Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan López-Moliner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eli Brenner
    • 2
  • Stefan Louw
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jeroen B. J. Smeets
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Basic PsychologyFaculty of Psychology and Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (IR3C), University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement SciencesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of NeuroscienceErasmus MCRotterdamThe Netherlands

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