Top-Level Players' Visual Control of Interceptive Actions: Bootsma and Van Wieringen (1990) 20 Years Later

  • Bootsma Reinoud J.
  • Fernandez Laure
  • Morice Antoine H.P.
  • Montagne Gilles

  • Interceptive actions
  • Information-based control
  • Expertise
  • Visuomotor delay
  • Movement time
  • TIME


Using a two-step approach, Van Soest et al. (2010) recently questioned the pertinence of the conclusions drawn by Bootsma and Van Wieringen (1990) with respect to the visual regulation of an exemplary rapid interceptive action: the attacking forehand drive in table tennis. In the first step, they experimentally compared the movement behaviors of their participants under conditions with and without vision available during the execution of the drive. In the second step, through simulation they evaluated the extent to which a preprogrammed pattern of muscle stimulation acting on the dynamical characteristics of the musculoskeletal system could explain the patterns of movement observed, including the phenomena of kinematic convergence and compensatory variability. In this contribution, we show how methodological and conceptual shortcomings, pertaining to both parts of Van Soest et al.'s study, severely limit the impact of their findings. We argue that their conclusion-denying the possibility of visual regulation of rapid interceptive actions-cannot be upheld in the light of the existing evidence, while Bootsma and Van Wieringen's conclusion-in favor of the visual regulation of rapid interceptive actions in top-level players-still holds strong, even after 20 years. Irrespective of the trends of the moment, we suggest that both appropriate experimentation and principled theorization need to be deployed before a model-based predictive architecture can be considered as a serious alternative to a (more parsimonious) information-based control architecture.