Perceiving affordances in sports through a momentum lens

den Hartigh, R. J. R., van der Sluis, J. K. & Zaal, F. T. J. M., Dec-2018, In : Human Movement Science. 62, p. 124–133 10 p.

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  • Den Hartigh, Van der Sluis, & Zaal (2018_HMS) author copy

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In this experimental study, we tested whether athletes’ judgments of affordances and of environmental features vary with psychological momentum (PM). We recruited golf, hockey, and tennis players, who were assigned to a positive or negative momentum condition. We designed a golf course on which participants made practice putts, after which they were asked to place the ball at their maximum “puttable” distance and to judge the hole size. Next, participants played a golf match against an opponent, in which the first to take a lead of 5 points would win the match. Participants were told that they could win a point by making the putt or by being closest to the hole. They wore visual occlusion goggles to prevent them from seeing the actual result, and the experimenter manipulated the scoring pattern to induce positive or negative PM. Participants in the positive momentum condition came back from a four-point lag to a four-point lead, whereas those in the negative momentum condition underwent the opposite scenario. We then asked the participants again to indicate their maximum puttable distance from the hole and to judge the hole size. After the manipulation, participants judged the maximum puttable distance to be longer in the positive momentum condition and shorter in the negative momentum condition. For the hole-size judgments, there were no significant effects. These results provide first indications for the idea that athletes’ affordances change when they experience positive PM compared to negative PM. This sheds a new light on the dynamics of perception-action processes and PM in sports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124–133
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online date20-Oct-2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018


  • Action possibilities, Action-specific perception, Golf, Perception-Action, Psychological momentum, sport psychology, PSYCHOLOGICAL MOMENTUM, PERCEPTION, DYNAMICS, SOCCER, SIZE

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