Recent research suggests that stroboscopic training is an effective tool to improve visual and visuomotor performance. However, many studies were limited by small samples, short training interventions, inexperienced athletes, and an exclusive focus on short-term effects. This first part of the study evaluates the short- and long-term effects of stroboscopic training on visuomotor reaction speed in elite athletes.
Forty-five young elite badminton athletes participated in this study, of which 32 (13.7 yr) were included in the final data analysis. Participants were assigned to an intervention (stroboscopic vision) or control group (normal vision). Both groups performed identical badminton-specific training drills implemented into the regular training schedule. Before and after a 10-wk training period and after a 6-wk retention interval, athletes performed a laboratory reaction test to determine EMG onset and visuomotor reaction time (VMRT). In addition, a field test investigated stroboscopic training effects on the quality of ball–racquet contact and net drop performance.
VMRT decreased immediately after stroboscopic training (pre, 251 ms; post, 238 ms; P = 0.005, d = 0.63), and reactions remained significantly faster after the retention interval (retention, 241 ms; P = 0.041, d = 0.50). Analyses on EMG onset data suggested these adaptations were attributable to the premotor rather than the motor time. VMRT remained unchanged in the control group (pre, 252 ms; post, 256; retention, 253 ms; P > 0.99). Field test performance improvements were observed for the quality of ball–racquet contact and net drop performance; however, changes were not different between groups.
Stroboscopic training induced short- and long-term accelerations of visuomotor reaction speed in elite badminton players. Stroboscopic eyewear may be an effective training tool to accelerate visuomotor reactions in highly skilled athletes.