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10-06-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 7/2020

Psychological Research 7/2020

A serial-position curve in high-performance darts: The effect of visuomotor calibration on throwing accuracy

Psychological Research > Uitgave 7/2020
Fabian Wunderlich, Herbert Heuer, Philip Furley, Daniel Memmert
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The aim of the present research was to test if the fine-tuning of skilled motor actions benefits from proximate previous actions via a visuomotor calibration process. In professional darts, each player cycles through different activities: three darts are thrown with a rather smooth sequence of movements, the darts are retrieved from the dartboard, the other player throws his or her darts and retrieves them, the next three darts are thrown, retrieved, etc. We hypothesized that these cycles give rise to a serial-position curve for the precision of darts as a result of a particular kind of warm-up decrement. Even though the interruptions of actually throwing darts are only in the order of seconds, walking away from the throw line should lead to a loss of fine-tuning of the calibration of movement parameters with respect to targets defined in the external frame of reference of the dartboard. For the players of the 2017 Professional Darts Corporation World Darts Championship (N = 36,168 scores) we confirmed that the first dart of a series of three is indeed less accurate than the subsequent two. This warm-up decrement is particularly pronounced for vertical errors, for which the relation to movement parameters is more complex than for horizontal errors. Fine-tuning of visuomotor calibration is a neglected facet of warm-up that is also important for various other sports such as tennis, basketball, handball, and football.

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