How to anticipate your opponent’s next move?

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I like this article from the IBF website entitled PERCEPTUAL PSYCHOLOGY.

“One discipline in which badminton has been comparatively well researched is that of perceptual psychology. Abernethy’s work in the late 1980’s (Abernethy, 1988, 1989; Abernethy & Russell, 1987a, 1987b) demonstrated that expert badminton players can anticipate where their opponent is going to place the shuttle better than novice players do. This was due to expert players picking up information earlier in the stroke sequence (167 – 83 ms prior to contact with the shuttle) and their ability to gain information from their opponent’s racket arm despite identical visual search strategies being used in the two groups (Abernethy & Russell, 1987a, 1987b).

Further study showed that some expert-novice difference was still apparent regardless of the degree of expertise (Abernethy, 1989) or the age of the players (Abernethy, 1988). However older experts (adults) showed a better ability to predict opponents shots earlier in the stroke sequence than younger experts (12 – 16 year olds).

Put in simple terms, this demonstrates that the longer a player has played badminton, the better his or her anticipatory skills will be. The challenge for coaches is to “fast-track” these skills to allow better perceptual awareness of opponents. Some recent papers (Starkes & Lindley, 1994; Abernethy, 1996) using video training may provide the solution for coaches and this is certainly worth exploring in the future.”

I find this to be true, both when playing less experienced and more experienced players. The longer you’ve played, the more opponents you’ve played, the easier it is to pick up clues about the coming shot. Of course, that may or may not be enough to make a difference in the end.

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