Miss to the right: The effect of attentional asymmetries of goal-kicking
Nicholls, Michael Elmo Richard
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Cerebral asymmetries for spatial attention generate a bias of attention – causing lines to be bisected to the left or right in near (within reach) and far (outside reach) space, respectively. This study explored whether the rightward deviation for bisecting lines in far space extends to tasks where a ball is aimed between two goal-posts. Kicking was assessed in a laboratory and a real-life setting. In the laboratory setting, 212 participants carried out three conditions: (a) kick a soccer ball at a single goal post, (b) kick a soccer ball between two goal posts and (c) use a stick to indicate the middle between two goal posts. The goals were placed at a distance of 4.0 m. There was no deviation in the one-goal kicking condition – demonstrating that no asymmetries exist in the perceptual motor system when aiming at a single point. When kicking or pointing at the middle between two goal posts, rightward deviations were observed. In the real-world setting, the number of misses to the left or right of goal (behinds) in the Australian Rules football for the 2005–2009 seasons was assessed. The data showed more rightward deviations for kicks at goal. Combined, the studies suggest that the rightward deviation for lines placed in far space extends to the kicking of a football in laboratory and real-life settings. This asymmetry in kicking builds on a body of research showing that attentional asymmetries impact everyday activities.