Sports Research

Researchers use eye tracking in sports research to detect flaws linked to attentional focus, trajectory estimations, visual search strategies, and hand-eye coordination. In sports psychology, this methodology reveals the differences in mental processes between expert athletes and beginners.

Eye tracking to optimize performance

Some of the leading sports research facilities use eye tracking in order to understand fundamental technique flaws linked to hand-eye coordination and to optimize performance and visual search techniques.

Eye tracking is used as a tool in

  • Soccer
  • Table tennis
  • Dressage riding
  • Hockey
  • Baseball
  • Basketball

  • American football
  • Fencing
  • Tennis
  • Track running
  • Mountain biking
  • Golf

Amateur versus professional athletes

Past sports research has already established significant differences in gaze patterns between amateur and professional athletes. A great example of this is in soccer, where the goalie has to quickly process information about the direction of the ball prior to the kick during a penalty shoot-out. The difference in the player's focus direction and length is considerable. Assessing the kicker's balance by looking at the non-kicking leg,

professional goalies gather better information than less-experienced goalies who tend to look at hip and torso movements. Evidence shows that the time it takes to process this visual information, known as the latency response, is up to twice as long in less-experienced athletes compared to their pro counterparts. Eye tracking has also been used in visual assessment studies of moving balls, examining the complementary use of looming and
disparity in order to determine trajectory and, more importantly, the brain's level of trust in these calculations when either one is missing. Experienced athletes have a better ability to predetermine how a ball will react to the action. This makes the pros better at judging the optimal time to strike a ball, as in baseball, or strategically plan the trajectory of a ball, in games like squash or basketball.

Eye tracking in sport psychology

This is a video from our customer University College Dubin School of Psychology. Professor Aidan Moran explains the extensive eye tracking research performed at the school to understand the mental processes that distinguish expert athletes from beginners. Their data will help coaches train the next generation of players.

Talent recognition

Eye movements directly affect sports performance. Because of this, measuring an athlete's innate attentional focus and trajectory-estimation skills can play a vital role in talent recognition. Watching gaze videos from training sessions immediately reveals an athlete's search strategies and, perhaps even more importantly, a lack thereof. Eye tracking can highlight the differences in attentional focus in training versus in more stressful competitive environments. By detecting what is being done incorrectly, a trainer can more easily correct flaws with consistency training.

More aspects about the key success factors in sports can be understood by comprehending how players perceive their surroundings on the field, especially in team sports.

Human Performance

Tobii Pro offers hardware and software, along with training and support, for the study of human performance in different situations. We have flexible solutions for research in real-world environments and in lab settings.

We have created eye trackers with a range of capabilities- from easy-to-use live viewing in order to get immediate insights to more advanced solutions for the full spectrum of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Read more


Swiss Ice Hockey Association

In this study conducted by the Swiss Ice Hockey Association, eye tracking was used to study gaze behavior during the physical task of shooting in ice hockey. The study generated new insights into the gaze behavior of successful shooters, which will be used to develop shooting techniques and training methods to maintain progress in shooting skills. Read more

  • Martin, C., Cegarra, J., & Averty, P. (2011). Analysis of Mental Workload during En-route Air Traffic Control Task Execution Based on Eye-Tracking Technique. In D. Harris (Ed.), Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics (pp. 592–597). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Retrieved from
  • Marshall, S. P. (2009). What the Eyes Reveal: Measuring the Cognitive Workload of Teams. In V. G. Duffy (Ed.), Digital Human Modeling (pp. 265–274). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Retrieved from
  • Dehais, F., Causse, M., & Pastor, J. (2008). Embedded eye tracker in a real aircraft: new perspectives on pilot/aircraft interaction monitoring. Presented at the Proceedings from The 3rd International Conference on Research in Air Transportation. Fairfax, USA: Federal Aviation Administration.

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