Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 230, Issue 3, pp 333–343 | Cite as

Athletes and novices are differently capable to recognize feint and non-feint actions

  • Iris Güldenpenning
  • Andreas Steinke
  • Dirk Koester
  • Thomas Schack
Research Article


Fast motor reactions in sports often require the ability to predict the intended action of an opponent as early as possible. Therefore, the present paper investigates whether beach volleyball athletes are able to recognize different attack hits (i.e. smash vs. poke shot) at an earlier stage of the movement than novices. Beach volleyball athletes and novices took part in a response priming experiment (Experiment 1). Participants had to decide whether a presented target picture depicts a smash or a poke shot. Importantly, the preceding prime pictures were taken from different stages of the movements varying between the jump (beginning of the movements) and the hand-ball contact (end of the movements). Diverging response congruency effects was found for athletes and novices. Athletes were able to recognize at an earlier movement stage than novices which kind of attack hit was shown at the prime picture. It is suggested that athletes might implicitly read movement-related patterns in the depicted athlete’s body posture (e.g. the angle of the elbow). In contrast, novices might use information which is easier to access (e.g. hand-ball relation). In a second experiment, novice participants received a visual training to test for a potential perceptual source of the priming effects. Notably, participants did not improve their ability to differentiate the volleyball techniques, indicating that a better recognition performance in athletes is based on motor and not on perceptual expertise.


Action representation Motor expertise Priming Feint action 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iris Güldenpenning
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andreas Steinke
    • 1
  • Dirk Koester
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Schack
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology and Sport Science, Neurocognition and Action - Biomechanics - Research GroupBielefeld University33615 BielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Center of Excellence - Cognitive Interaction TechnologyBielefeld University33615 BielefeldGermany
  3. 3.Research Institute for Cognition and Robotics (CorLab)Bielefeld University33615 BielefeldGermany

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