Training Visual Control in Wheelchair Basketball Shooting

By Oudejans, Raoul R. D.; Heubers, Sjoerd et al. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Training Visual Control in Wheelchair Basketball Shooting


Oudejans, Raoul R. D., Heubers, Sjoerd, Ruitenbeek, Jean-Rene J. A. C., Janssen, Thomas W. J., Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


We examined the effects of visual control training on expert wheelchair basketball shooting, a skill more difficult than in regular basketball, as players shoot from a seated position to the same rim height. The training consisted of shooting with a visual constraint that forced participants to use target information as late as possible. Participants drove under a large screen that initially blocked the basket. As soon as they saw the basket they shot. When training with the screen, shooting percentages increased. We conclude that visual control training is an effective method to improve wheelchair basketball shooting. The findings support the idea that perceptual motor learning can be enhanced by manipulating relevant constraints in the training environment, even for expert athletes.

Key words: far aiming, perceptual learning, visual attention training

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Wheelchair basketball is played in over 75 countries. First played as an organized sport over 50 years ago, it has become the most popular of all wheelchair sports (Malone, Nielsen, & Steadward, 2000). During the last decades, a large number of players have changed from amateurs to semiprofessionals, and interest for the game keeps growing (Goosey-Tolfrey, Butterworth, & Morriss, 2002). Similar to regular basketball, success in wheelchair basketball depends mostly on the player's skill in throwing the ball through the rim. However, this skill is even more difficult than in regular basketball, as the rim is the same height as in regular basketb+all (3.05 m), while wheelchair players sit in a low position and are unable to use upward leg force to help project the basketball (Goosey-Tolfrey et al., 2002; Malone et al., 2000). Because almost all force is generated with the arms and trunk, it is difficult to apply the required force to the ball to reach the basket (Goosey-Tolfrey et al., 2002; Malone et al., 2000).

For regular basketball, Oudejans and colleagues provided insight into the visual control of basketball free throws and jump shots (De Oliveira, Oudejans, & Beek, 2006, 2008, 2009; Oudejans & Coolen, 2003; Oudejans, Van de Langenberg, & Hutter, 2002). They investigated the information sources used and when this information is optimally detected for successful shooting. These insights provide starting points for how the visual control of shooting can be trained to improve shooting performance (cf. Oudejans & Koedijker, 2010; Oudejans, Koedijker, Bleijendaal, & Bakker, 2005).

In general, most sports training focuses on physical conditioning, improving technical skills, and game tactics. Relatively little training aims at improving players' perceptual skills (Abernethy, 1996), while there is accumulating evidence that perceptual expertise is an important factor in several sports (see Williams & Ward, 2003). A key question is whether it is possible to speed up or optimize perceptual skill development through training (Adolphe, Vickers, & Laplante, 1997; Oudejans et al., 2005; Williams & Ward, 2003; cf. Davids, Button, & Bennett, 2008; Renshaw, Davids, & Savelsbergh, 2010; Vickers, 2007). In the current study, we investigated the effects of an on-court visual control training program on expert wheelchair basketball players' shooting performance.

Oudejans et al. (2002) found that expert basketball jump shooting relied almost exclusively on seeing the rim late during the unfolding of the movement, that is, the last 300-400 ms before bail release. However, this also appeared to depend on whether players had a high or low shooting style. With a high style, the bail "is lifted up past the face into position from which the shot is completed with an extension of the right elbow and a flexion of the wrist and fingers" (Hay, 1993, p. 240). The low style has been described as pushing, during which the ball and hands remain below or at eye level for almost the entire shooting action (Kreighbaum & Barthels, 1981). …

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Training Visual Control in Wheelchair Basketball Shooting
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