6 – Embodied Perception in Sport

Why do great athletes claim that on some nights baseballs look as big as a grapefruit, basketball hoops are like oceans and things move in slow motion? Are they just blowing a lot of hot air or is this really the way they see the world? In this episode, I explore embodied perception in sport…the idea that the way we see the world changes as a function of our action capabilities (e.g., whether we are an expert or novice, whether we are fresh or fatigued, etc). I also consider how we might take advantage of these effects in sports training programs.
What Grinds My Gears: Publishing Pet Peeves
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Key Points
• Embodied perception theory (Proffitt) proposed that the perceptual image information created by objects in the environment is scaled by the performer’s ability to act on them. So, for example, the perceived steepness of a hill facing a cyclist is determined both by the angle of the surface projected on the retina and by the cyclists level of fatigue, while the perceived size of a golf hole is related to both its retinal image size and the precision with which the performer can putt the ball.
• On the surface, this idea is consistent with the anecdotes from athletes that ball’s look bigger and things moving in slow motion when they are playing well
• Researchers have found 3 different types of effects consistent with embodied in perception in sport: changes in perception due to skill level (e.g., more skilled athletes perceive a golf hole to be bigger), changes in perception due to task demands (e.g., a golf hole is perceived to be smaller when putting from a larger distance) and changes in perception related to the athletes goals (e.g., pitches that appropriate for a batter’s goal are perceived to be bigger.
• Alternative explanations have been put forth to explain the effects including response biases, memory distortions and attentional accentuation
• There is some evidence that re-creating embodied perceptual effects (e.g., making certain the ball smaller for certain pitches) can be used for training


More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
JoosTVD – Bigger Things
The Jacobins – Slow Motion
Leather Uppers – Bigger Than a Breadbox
Ergo Phizmiz – Pressures from Golf
Reigning Sound – Straight Shooter
via freemusicarchive.org