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Quiet-eye training for soccer penalty kicks

Abstract

Anxiety has been shown to disrupt visual attention, visuomotor control and subsequent shot location in soccer penalty kicks. However, optimal visual attention has been trained in other far aiming skills, improving performance and resistance to pressure. We therefore asked a team of ten university soccer players to follow a quiet eye (QE; Vickers 1996) training program, designed to align gaze with aiming intention to optimal scoring zones, over a 7-week period. Performance and gaze parameters were compared to a placebo group (ten players) who received no instruction, but practiced the same number of penalty kicks over the same time frame. Results from a retention test indicated that the QE-trained group had more effective visual attentional control, were significantly more accurate, and had 50% fewer shots saved by the goalkeeper than the placebo group. Both groups then competed in a penalty shootout to explore the influence of anxiety on attentional control and shooting accuracy. Under the pressure of the shootout, the QE-trained group failed to maintain their accuracy advantage, despite maintaining more distal aiming fixations of longer duration. The results therefore provide only partial support for the effectiveness of brief QE training interventions for experienced performers.

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Correspondence to Mark R. Wilson.

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Wood, G., Wilson, M.R. Quiet-eye training for soccer penalty kicks. Cogn Process 12, 257–266 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10339-011-0393-0

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Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Gaze behavior
  • Visuomotor control
  • Pressure
  • Football