Thomas McGuckian

Using inertial measurement units to investigate visual exploration in a novel football passing task

After presenting at the European College of Sport Science congress in Dublin, I travelled to Germany to collaborate with Adam Beavan (Saarland University/UTS PhD candidate) on a research project. I would like to thank the ISEA Student Engagement Award for funding this component of my trip. The funding helped cover the costs of transport and accommodation, allowing this project to go ahead.

The data collection involved the quantification of exploratory head movement using inertial measurement units while football players completed a novel football passing task. With this data, we will investigate how the exploratory action before players receive a pass influences their ability to perform a subsequent pass. Data analysis will involve the synchronisation of the IMU data with video footage, coding of video footage and processing of the IMU data with a custom designed algorithm. The output will give an understanding of various qualities of exploratory action and how these influence subsequent actions with the ball. This is a relatively new area of research, so the findings will go a long way to informating our understanding of visual exploration in football.

The collaboration with Adam allowed access to high level players for data collection, which will give an excellent insight into how highly skilled athletes use visual information to guide passing actions in football. This investigation is the first of many potential collaborations, even after both Adam and I complete our PhD studies, and the ISEA has played a significant role in making this possible.

Adam (left) and Tom (right) enjoying a drink after the ECSS congress
The facilities used for data collection in Germany