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Research sources: sensory-motor skills development

Over 80% of nerve endings to muscles in the body are directly linked via proprioception and the vestibular system with motor nerves running to and from the eyes

(see Hanaford, C., 1995, Smart Moves - Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, Great Ocean Publishers, Alington, Virginia).

The value of Sports Vision screening was demonstrated by Loran and Griffiths, who put all the under-14 players attached to a premier league football team through a series of SV tests. Those who were not retained for the following season because of deficits in their football skills were precisely the same ones identified by screening as the worst performers visually. This high correlation between SV ranking and ranking by coaches suggests that visual performance could be used as a guide to playing potential in younger players.

(Optometry Today, 41;2, pp 32-34 (2000))

Sports vision - How enhancing your vision can give you that extra edge in competition by Brian Ariel (Peak Perfromance magazine)


Proprioception (from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own" and perception) is the sense of the position of parts of the body, relative to other neighbouring parts of the body. Unlike the six exteroception human senses of sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing, and balance, that advise us of the outside world, proprioception is a sense that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether or not your body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.


Research papers of interest:

Starting with the work of Professor Mark Williams:


Selected Publications:

  • Hodges, N. J., Ford, P. R., Hendry, D. T., & Williams, A. M. (2017). Getting gritty about practice and success: Motivational characteristics of great performers. Progress in Brain Research, 232, 167-173.

  • Williams, A. M., Fawver, B., & Hodges, N. J. (2017). Using the ‘Expert Performance Approach’ as a framework for examining and enhancing skill learning: Improving understanding of how experts learn. Frontline Learning Research 5, 139-154.

  • Denis, D., Rowe, R. Williams, A. M., & Milne, E. (2016). The role of cortical sensorimotor oscillations in action anticipation. Neuroimage, 146, 1102-1114.

  • Cocks, A. J., Jackson, R. C., Bishop, D. T. and Williams, A. M. (2016). Anxiety, anticipation, and contextual information: A test of Attentional Control Theory. Cognition and Emotion, 30, 1037-1048.

  • Ellmers, T. J., Machado, G., Wong, T. W. L., Zhu, F., Williams, A. M., & Young, W. R. (2016). A validation of neural co-activation as a measure of attentional focus in a postural task. Gait and Posture, 50, 229-231.

  • Larkin, P., O’Connor, D., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Does grit influence sport-specific engagement and perceptual-cognitive expertise in elite youth soccer? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 28, 129-138.

  • Murphy, C., Jackson R. C., Cooke, K., Roca, A., Benguigui, N., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Contextual information and perceptual-cognitive expertise in a dynamic, temporally- constrained task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22, 455-470.

  • Vater, C., Jackson, R. C., Roca, A. and Williams, A. M. (2016). The effects of anxiety on anticipation and visual search in dynamic, time-constrained situations. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5, 179-192.

  • Young, W. R., Oloniula, M., Masters, R. S. W., Dimitradis, S., and Williams, A. M. (2016). Examining links between anxiety, reinvestment and walking when talking by older adults during adaptive gait. Experimental Brain Research, 234, 161-172.

  • Broadbent, D.P., Causer, J., Ford, P.R. and Williams, A. M. (2015). The contextual interference effect in perceptual-cognitive skills training. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 47, 1243-1250.

  • Causer, J., & Williams A. M. (2015). The use of patterns to disguise environmental cues during an anticipatory judgment task. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 37, 74-82.

  • Balser, N., Lorey, B., Bischoff, M, Zentgraf, K., Williams, A. M. and Munzert, J. (2014). Prediction of human actions: Expertise and task-related effects on neural activation of the action observation network. Human Brain Mapping, 35, 4016-4034.

  • Balser, N., Lorey, B., Pilgramm, S., Naumann, T., Kindermann, S., Stark, R., Zentgraf, K., Williams, A. M. and Munzert, J. (2014). The influence of expertise on brain activation of the action observation network during anticipation of tennis and volleyball serves. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 568, 1-13.

  • Coughlan, E., Williams, A.M. and Ford., P. (2014). A novel test of deliberate practice theory: how experts learn. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 40, 2, 449-458.Ford, P. R., Hodges, N. J., & Williams, A. M. (2013). Creating champions: The development of expertise in sports. In S. B. Kaufman (Ed.), Beyond talent: The complexity of greatness (pp. 391-414). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., McRobert, A. P., and Williams, A. M. (2013). Perceptual-cognitive skills and their interaction as a function of task constraints in soccer. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35, 144-155.

  • Ward, P., Ericsson, K. A., & Williams, A. M. (2013). Complex perceptual-cognitive expertise in a simulated task environment. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 7, 231-254.

  • Williams, A. M. (2013). Science and soccer: Developing elite performers. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Helsen, W. F., Baker, J., Michiels, S., Schorer, J., van Winckel, J., & Williams, A. M. (2012). The relative age effect in European professional soccer: Did ten years of research make any difference? Journal of Sports Sciences, 30, 1665–1671.

  • Hodges, N. J., & Williams, A. M. (2012). Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory and practice. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Roca, A., Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R. (2012). Developmental activities and the acquisition of superior anticipation and decision making in soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30, 1643-1652.

  • North, J. S., Ward, P., Ericsson, A., and Williams, A. M. (2011). Mechanisms underlying skilled anticipation and recognition in a dynamic and temporally constrained domain. Memory 19, 155–168.

  • Roca, A., Ford, P.R., McRobert, A.P., & Williams, A.M. (2011). Identifying the processes underpinning anticipation and decision-making in a dynamic time-constrained task. Cognitive Processing, 12, 301-310.

  • Williams, A. M., Ford, P. R., Eccles, D. W., & Ward, P. (2011). Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport and its acquisition: Implications for applied cognitive psychology. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25, 432-442.

  • Ford, P. R., Yates, I., & Williams, A. M. (2010). An analysis of practice activities and instructional behaviours used by youth soccer coaches during practice: Exploring the link between science and application. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28, 483-95.

  • Ford, P.R. Ward, P., Hodges, N.J., & Williams, A.M. (2009). The role of deliberate practice and play in career progression in sport: The early engagement hypothesis. High Ability Studies, 20, 65-75.

  • Vaeyens, R., Lenoir, M., Williams, M. A., & Philippaerts, R. M. (2008). Talent identification and development programmes in sport: Current models and future directions. Sports Medicine, 38, 703-714.

  • Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R. (2008). Expertise and expert performance in sport. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1, 4-18.

  • Mann, D.T.Y, Janelle, C.J., Williams, A.M. and Ward, P. (2007). Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 29, 457-478.

  • Carling, C., Williams, A. M, and Reilly, T. (2005) The handbook of soccer match analysis: A systematic approach to performance enhancement. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Savelsbergh, G .J. P., van der Kamp, J., Williams, A. M., and Ward, P. (2005). Anticipation and visual search behaviour in expert soccer goalkeepers. Ergonomics, 48, 1686-1697.

  • Williams, A.M. and Ericsson, K.A. (2005) Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport: Some considerations when applying the expert performance approach in sport. Human Movement Science, 24, 283-307.

  • Stratton, G., Reilly, T., Williams, A. M., & Richardson, D. (2004). Youth soccer: From science to performance. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Reilly, T., Williams, A.M., Nevill, A. and Franks, A. (2000) A multidisciplinary approach to talent identification in soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 695-702.

  • Williams, A.M. (2000) Perceptual skill in soccer: Implications for talent identification and development. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 737-740.

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