Visual search strategies and game knowledge in junior Australian rules football players: testing potential in talent identification and development

Lael Kassem, Bonnie Pang, Sera Dogramaci, Clare MacMahon, John Quinn, Kylie A. Steel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study explored video-based decision-making and eye-movement behavior as a complementary method to assess the decision-making skills and knowledge of elite junior Australian Rules (AR) Football players. Performance was measured twice over an 18-month period. This approach tested a practical and reliable assessment of decision-making and game knowledge that does not contribute to physical training load. N = 59 participants were categorized based on their training age groups, U14 (N = 38, Mage13.37 ± 0.47) and U16 (N = 21, Mage14.80 ± 0.39). Participants watched 14 brief video clips and provided action choices while wearing eye-movement recording glasses that captured visual search patterns (e.g., fixations). Decision accuracy and speed of decision-making were also recorded. Participants with accurate decisions made significantly faster decisions compared to less skilled players (p < 0.001). Further, skilled participants had significantly fewer fixations of shorter duration compared to less skilled participants at both the initial and follow-up testing sessions (p < 0.0001). This suggests that eye-movement characteristics, remain a relatively stable measure over moderate periods of time. With the ability to differentiate between more and less skilled decision-makers, this proof-of-concept study proposes that examining eye movements in relation to decision-making and game knowledge is a viable tool for Talent Identification and Development (TID) to complement current measures. We provide a platform for further development and research in the quest for efficient and effective talent identification processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1356160
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Australian rules football
  • decision-making
  • eye-movement behavior
  • sport expertise
  • talent identification and development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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