To touch or not to touch? Fencers’ estimate of their reachability

Yin-Hua Chen */** and Yeou-Teh Liu */***

(*) Graduate Institute of Exercise and Sport Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
(**) Research Center for Mind, Brain and Learning, National Chengchi University, Taiwan
(***) Department of Athletic Performance, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan


Chen, Y., Liu, Y. (2015). To touch or not to touch? Fencers’ estimate of their reachability. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(1), 83-94. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2015.46.083


In this study we asked fencers and non-fencers to estimate their reach-ability by imagining themselves touching an approaching or retreating opponent with a lunge holding a hand-held object (a 110cm fencing sword or a 180cm stick). Overall, fencers showed refined affordances of their reach-ability with less error and lower variability of estimates than non-fencers. Moreover, they demonstrated the same level of overestimation bias toward different hand-held objects, but smaller estimation variability particularly for the fencing sword as compared to non-fencers. Only fencers showed a greater overestimation when the opponent was approaching them rather than moving away from them, implying that they predicted the opponent’s approaching step and thus perceived that they could reach the opponent from a further location. In conclusion, our results provide new empirical evidence of the influence of athletic experience in perceiving affordance in sports: affordances could be refined but also attuned if needed. The findings from this study have contributed to our understanding of estimating one’s attacking distance in addition to the fine movement skills in fencing.

Keywords: Affordances, Distant perceptions, Fencis