Head in the game

November 24, 2020

Tsukuba, Japan - Researchers from the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Tsukuba studied the way blind players and sighted non-athletes tracked an incoming noise-making ball. They found that blind players employed a larger downward head rotation when trapping the rolling ball, compared with blindfolded sighted volunteers. This work may help explain the methods visually impaired people utilize to complete daily tasks, as well as assist in the creation of new smart-assistant devices.

Blind soccer is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of visual ability. Except for the goalkeepers, players are blindfolded during the game, and can follow the location of the ball using the sounds it emits. To better understand the way visually impaired players are able to receive and control the ball, scientists at the University of Tsukuba recruited both experienced blind soccer players as well as sighted nonathlete volunteers. A system of ten cameras was used to keep track of the three-dimensional position of the reflective markers attached to the body of each test subject. The task for each participant was to trap an incoming rolling ball with his right foot while blindfolded.

The seasoned blind footballers showed a larger downward head rotation angle, as well as better overall performance, compared with the sighted non-athletes. However, no significant differences were found in the horizontal head or trunk rotation. This indicates that blind footballers can more closely match the motion of their head with the movement of the approaching ball.

"Our study suggests that blind footballers are better at keeping the ball in a consistent egocentric direction relative to the head throughout the trapping process," Senior author Professor Masahiro Kokubu says.

It is known that blind individuals can have superior hearing compared with sighted individuals, especially for sound localization. "Our results are consistent with previous findings that practice improves the ability to track sounds even in blind individuals who already do better than sighted people on this task," explains Professor Kokubu. These results also suggest that the strategy of blind footballers to accurately localize a ball is similar to the way high-level baseball batters rotate their heads. The results of this project may lead to improved smart devices that take advantage of these same techniques to assist visually impaired individuals.
-end-
The work is published in Scientific Reports as "Blind footballers direct their head towards an approaching ball during ball trapping" (DOI:10.1038/s41598-020-77049-3)

University of Tsukuba

Related Ball Articles from Brightsurf:

Head in the game
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba find that blind soccer players rotate their heads downward when trapping an incoming pass.

Soccer players' head injury risk could be reduced with simple adjustments to the ball
To reduce risk of soccer player head injury, a new study recommends preventing how hard a ball hits the head by inflating balls to lower pressures and subbing them out when they get wet.

Central Asian horse riders played ball games 3,000 years ago
UZH researchers have investigated ancient leather balls discovered in the graves of horse riders in northwest China.

Electric clothes dryers: An underestimated source of microfiber pollution
Electric clothes dryers (tumble dryers) may be a hitherto unsuspected source of microfibers, widely emitting fibers from laundry into the environment through their vents, according to an experimental study.

Planetary ball-milling helps protect our planet from plastics pollution
Researchers at Osaka University have developed supramolecular polymeric materials that combine rapid self-healing with high toughness by using the efficient molecular mixing method of planetary ball-milling.

Ball-and-chain inactivation of ion channels visualized by cryo-electron microscopy
Ion channels, which allow potassium and sodium ions to flow in and out of cells, are crucial in neuronal 'firing' in the central nervous system and for brain and heart function.

Carbon soccer ball with extra proton probably most abundant form in space
It is one of the most common forms of carbon in space: C60, a soccer ball-shaped carbon molecule, but one that has an extra proton attached to it.

Nanoceramics from the ball mill
Nanometer-sized corundum particles for automotive catalysts and particularly stable ceramics can now be produced amazingly easily.

The secret to sneaky float serves
A team of researchers led by the University of Tsukuba performed wind tunnel experiments to determine the role of asymmetry caused by the orientation of a volleyball on its aerodynamic characteristics.

Tractor overturn prediction using a bouncing ball model could save the lives of farmers
Overturning tractors are the leading cause of death for farmers around the world.

Read More: Ball News and Ball Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.