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RYAN O’DONOVAN

Research at Brunel University has discovered that top international sportspeople can anticipate opponent’s actions 80 milliseconds before they move.

The Anticipation Training research was led by Brunel’s Head of Life Sciences Professor Mark Williams, and aided by personal care product supplier Gillette.

The research aimed to highlight the importance of precision in making sure goalkeepers were ready to save penalties during matches and in those all important penalty shootouts.

The research showed that the top players can anticipate an opponent’s action 70% of the time, while less talented players only have a rate of 52%.

Professor Williams told Brunel’s website, “The smallest margins can make the difference between winning and losing.

“As a result of extensive training and experience on the pitch, the top players have developed high-refined perceptual and cognitive skills that enable them to anticipate exactly what an opponent will do ahead of the act itself.”

The research showed that elite goalkeepers spend more time fixating on the penalty taker’s face during their walk-up and kicking leg, non-kicking leg and ball all milliseconds before a penalty is struck.

It also concluded that lesser skilled goalkeepers focus on less important information.

Prof. Williams added, “This research shows that those players who practice their art and train hardest have the best chance of success.”