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Latency of Prosaccades and Antisaccades in Professional Shooters


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 388-394
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000185661.01802.67
APPLIED SCIENCES: Psychobiology and Behavioral Strategies

Purpose: This study evaluated hypothesis that the faster saccadic reaction time in professional clay-target shooters found in a previous study was because of a superiority of athletes arising at the attention level or at level of saccadic motor preparation.

Method: Ten shooters with at least 6 yr of shooting training in Olympic shotgun disciplines and 10 control subjects participated in the experiments. In the first experiment, prosaccades were studied by comparing the saccadic latencies obtained from the overlap and gap paradigms. In the overlap paradigm, a target was presented randomly at one of four cardinal positions with the fixation point presented throughout the trial duration. In the gap paradigm, the fixation point was removed at the time of target presentation. In the second experiment, subjects were instructed to saccade as quickly as possible in the direction opposite to that of the target location (antisaccades).

Results: Shooters had shorter saccadic latency than controls, both with gap and overlap conditions in the first experiment and in the antisaccade condition of the second experiment.

Conclusion: This result indicates that athletes' advantage in saccadic reaction times cannot be attributed to improvement of the attentional mechanism of disengagement. Present results support the hypothesis that shooters develop shorter motor preparation to saccades.

1Department of Education in Sport and Human Movement, University for Human Movement (IUSM), Rome, ITALY; and 2Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, ITALY

Address for correspondence: Francesco Di Russo, Department of Education in Sport and Human Movement University for Human Movement "IUSM" Piazza Lauro De Bosis, 15 00194 Rome, Italy; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2005.

Accepted for publication August 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine