Monday, 15 August 2011

Olympic Countdown - Basketball

Several international rugby forwards have developed their handling skills by playing basketball, including Simon Shaw and Courtney Lawes. I often think that it would help goalkeepers dealing with crosses as well.

Vickers (1996) found that elite basketball players concentrate their gaze on just one part of the target, such as the front of the hoop. In contrast, the gaze of lesser players tends to wander all around the target. But there’s a problem: at some stage the ball gets in the way.

There are actually two shooting styles. In the low style, the ball is brought up and blocks the view of the hoop on release. Players with this style must get all their information before the ball blocks their view. In the high style, the ball is brought up above head height before being released, allowing the hoop to be viewed as the shot is taken. These players can get “Quiet Eye” information right up to the moment when the ball is released.

Intuitively, one would have thought that the high style would have been more effective, but researchers so far have failed to find one method to be better than the other. This could be because laboratory conditions aren’t tough enough, for instance there are no opponents.

Or it could be that both styles are effective as long as you focus on one specific part of the target, and you do it as late as your preferred style allows.

David Donner