Comparison of Coinciding Anticipation Timing and Reaction Time Performances of Adolescent Female Volleyball Players in Different Playing Positions

Authors:Ahmet Rahmi Günay * (1), Halil Ibrahim Ceylan (2), Filiz Fatma Çolakoğolu (3), Özcan Saygın (4)

(1, 2, 4) Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences, Turkey. (3) Gazi University, Faculty of Sports Sciences, Turkey.

Corresponding Author:
Halil Ibrahim Ceylan, Research Assistant
Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences
Kotekli/Mugla, 48000

(1) Ahmet Rahmi Günay is a lecturer and doctoral student at the Gazi University studying Health and Coaching Sciences. He is also a Volleyball trainer.

 (2) Halil İbrahim Ceylan is a Research Assistant and doctoral student at the Mugla Sitki Kocman University studying Health and Coaching Sciences. 

(3) Filiz Fatma Çolakoğlu is a Professor at the Gazi University studying Training Sciences.

(4) Ozcan Saygin is a Professor in Sports Exercise Science at the Mugla Sitki Kocman University studying physical activity and fitness

Comparison of Coinciding Anticipation Timing and Reaction Time Performances of Adolescent Female Volleyball Players in Different Playing Positions


The purpose of this study was to compare coinciding anticipation timing (CAT) and reaction time performance of adolescent female volleyball players in different playing positions. Twenty-eight adolescent volleyball players (14 Outside players and 14 Middle players), who played volleyball in licensed infrastructure leagues and trained 5 days a week regularly, with an average age of 15.0 ± 0.94 years, participated voluntarily. A Bassin Anticipation Timer was used to measure the CAT performance of the volleyball players at different stimulation speeds: Slow- 3 mph (1.34 m/s) and Fast- 8 mph (3.58 m/s). Visual, auditory, and mixed reaction times were measured with the Newtest 1000 Instrument. When the absolute error scores of volleyball players were compared according to playing positions, a statistically significant difference was found in the fast speed condition (t = -2.090, p = .047). A statistically significant difference was also observed in the mixed reaction time scores (t = -2.163, p = .040). Middle players had better CAT scores in the Fast condition and mixed reaction time performances than outside players. This is thought to be due to the different responsibilities of middle players in the game as compared with outside players. Because both offensive combinations and block responsibilities are more diversified for Middle players, CAT and reaction time performance of middle players are of greater importance. In order to reach top level performance, it is thought that a number of special exercises, in addition to volleyball training, should be done to improve the CAT performance. It is recommended to repeat the research in different age groups, different categories and different positions.

Keywords: Adolescent, Playing Position, Coinciding Anticipation Timing, Reaction Time, Volleyball


Perceptual skills form the foundation of the ability to predict and react to a stimulus with an effective response. These skills are required for athletes to perform their motor skills competently in sports (34), especially in volleyball, where the game dynamics and short time of reaction to the changing situations are extremely important (46). Volleyball can be defined as a situational sport, requiring great adaptation capacity to the variables that continuously change (40). The players are excessively subject to arousal in the competition environment and need to predict and respond quickly in a limited time (62). “The ability to quickly see the incoming ball or change one’s position on the court decide whether a point is scored and, in the end, the game is won” (46, p 276). Volleyball players need to be at a sufficient level in terms of sensory and cognitive skills as well as physical and motor skills. Coinciding anticipation timing (CAT) and reaction time are an important sensory and cognitive skills (34, 50).

CAT refers to the ability to predict what is likely to happen before the event itself. It is also defined as the ability to read games and is very important in sports where decisions must be taken quickly before a opponent’s action (51). Two types of CAT performance can be mentioned in team sports. These are receptor and effector anticipation. For example, the estimation of the distance of the ball in the air when catching the ball is defined as receptor anticipation, while the calculation of the hands to be brought to the front of the body in order to catch the ball is defined as effector anticipation (43). Overall response time to a stimulus is greatly influenced by both receptor and effector anticipation (42). Reaction time is very important in sports and games where the movements of the players are conditioned by signals, by the movement of the ball or by the movements of the opponent (22). Reaction time which is one of the most important components in most activities, refers to the speed of decision making and movement. Success in most rapid movements depend on the speed of decision-making and movement of the athlete based on movements caused by the environment or competitor (54). CAT and reaction time are very important for players to evaluate the activities and positions of other players in team sports such as volleyball (50), basketball (60) and handball (52). In the sports played with a ball, it is essential to detect all information about the ball (position and velocity) in order to prepare the appropriate motor response (57), perform the necessary footwork, take the right position, and to get ready for a return shot (3). The ability of the athlete to take postural cues from the opponent’s body movements is also crucial for performance. (49). In addition, athletes involved in team sports can often predict the results of movement of another athlete based on visual information from other athletes’ body movements (15). CAT is very important in block performance (8) and predicting different types of attacks (62).

A shorter reaction time and more accurate anticipation ensure players an advantage for high performance in volleyball. There are studies examining CAT or reaction time in different sports such as, football (29, 53), basketball (1, 26, 41), handball (25, 39), tennis and table tennis (2, 3, 37, 56, 61), badminton (23), baseball and rugby (13, 48) and karate (45). In the literature, there are studies indicating the importance of reaction time (5, 33, 40, 47, 62) and both CAT and reaction time in volleyball (8, 32, 50, 51). There are limited studies that measure and compare the CAT and reaction time of volleyball players who play in different positions. This shows that the current study is important for the literature. In volleyball games, middle players have multi-faceted attack combinations and block responsibilities (44). Volleyball players reported that orientation and spatial position of the spiker relative to the ball to be hit, which are available just prior to hand-ball contact, are important cues in anticipating attack course (58). Ceylan and Gunay (11) compared the CAT of football, basketball and volleyball players. They reported that there was no statistically significant difference in the CAT. Perceptual-motor expertise may contribute to successful action anticipation (6, 9, 38). Canal-Bruland et al. (9), Kioumourtzoglou et al. (32), Takeyama et al. (58), Schorer et al. (55) found the ability to detect a moving object and the prediction accuracy of expert volleyball players were found to be higher as compared with novice volleyball players. Kioumourtzoglou et al. (31) indicated that volleyball expert players performed better on perceptual speed, focused attention, prediction, and estimation of speed and direction of a moving object. In one study, Nuri et al. (50) compared the CAT and reaction times of the volleyball players and the sprinters. He showed that volleyball players predicted the speed and timing of the ball better than the sprinters.  In additon, auditory reaction time of the sprinters was found to be better than volleyball players. The reason for this is that volleyball players train in a dynamic environment where they constantly predict where the ball will be. Therefore, the predictive capabilities of the volleyball players related to the ball were improved. Zhou (62) stated that volleyball players playing in different roles used different strategies for visual search. They found that the main attack group and the supporting attack group athletes used more short search durations for gaze duration, and the accuracy of the prediction and judgment response were also higher than other playing positions. They suggested that the higher search speeds of main attackers and supporting attacks were related to higher neural activation intensity. Saygin et al. (53) examined the conciding anticipation performance of the football players. They indicated that goalkeeper had a better CAT performance than defender, midfielder and forward players.

Good cognitive characteristics, such as reaction time in volleyball, provide a better understanding of the game and leads to faster responses to actions (5). Zwierko et al. (63) reported that volleyball players (mean age: 22.86 ± 2.09 years) had better total reaction times to stimuli appearing in the central and peripheral field of vision compared to non-athletes. They found the reaction time of the volleyball players and non-athletes as 347.50 ± 36.37 ms, 407.83 ± 52.56 ms, respectively. They also noted that differences in the reaction time and in the speed of signal conductivity in visual pathways between athletes and non-athletes can be linked to the effect of the sports dynamic sensorimotor demands on the central nervous system (63). The better visuomotor reaction time of athletes as compared with non-athletes is associated with structural and functional adaptations in the central nervous system. Moreover, visuomotor reaction performance for athletes performing at high skill level depends on visual processes and especially on the structural and functional characteristics of the mid-temporal area sensitive to visual motion (27). Maciel et al. (40) compared the reaction times of volleyball players who played in different positions. They observed that the reaction time of central attackers and strong-side attackers were found to have faster reaction times due to the movement characteristics of their playing position. They also expressed that the reason why the center players performed better at reaction time test was related to the functional characteristics of the players.  In line with previous findings (40), we hypothesized that middle players would be faster than the outside players in terms of CAT and reaction time. The aim of this study was to compare the CAT and reaction time performances of adolescent female volleyball players in different playing positions.


Twenty-eight adolescent females who had a training regularly 5 days a week and played volleyball at a University Sports Club participated in this study. Permission was obtained from the Sports Club before starting the study. The athletes who participated in the study signed the Informed Consent Form.

Body Weight and Height: The body weight and height of volleyball players were performed by Seca brand measurement tool (0.01 kg and 0.01 cm sensitivity) (24).

Coincidence Anticipation Timing: Bassin Anticipation Timer (Lafayette Instrument Company, Model 35575) which was developed to test the area of visual acuity related to eye-hand coordination and coinciding anticipation by Stanley Bassin (35). Crocetta et al. (14) reported that The Bassin Anticipation Timer was the most used instrument to determine CAT in their review. The device consists of three parts called control console, response button and runways where the LED lights move in a linear series (2.24 m). All LED lights (49 lights) are designed in a moving line in order to warn participants that dynamic stimulation is coming (4). Studies related to CAT showed that 3 mph was a “slow” stimulus speed and 8 mph was a “fast” stimulus speed (4, 17, 18, 19, 37, 53).

Reaction Time: Newtest 1000 Reaction Instrument (Model 90220 Finland): Visual (light), auditory (sound) and mixed (light or sound) reaction times of the volleyball players for dominant hand were measured with the Newtest 1/1000 sensitive reaction timer in a quiet, and well-lit enviroment.

Collection of Data
The measurements of the study were carried out by researchers between the hours of 09.00 and 12.00 am. Preliminary interviews were made with the volleyball players and detailed information was given about the content, method of the study, and Bassin Anticipation Timing device. Height and body weight measurements of the participants were collected. Parrticipants were then taken to a quiet and calm environment one by one and their CAT performances were measured at two different stimulus speeds [Slow: 3 mph (1.34 m/s): and Fast: 8 mph (3.58 m/s)]. Stimulus speed was presented in a random order. Visual (light), auditory (sound) and mixed (light or sound) reaction times were determined in the same environment after completing CAT measurements.In this study, for each different stimulus speed, the 49th light of the device (including the warning light) was chosen as the target light. In order to minimize the possibility of the participants predicting the timing of the the start of the trial, the starting light (the visual warning system) was adjusted in a random manner for a minimum delay of 1 second, and maximum delay of 2 seconds (18). The device was placed on the table and the participant stood close to the device (see Figure 1). The signal was sent by the conductor of the study for each trial. The participants were asked to stop the moving light signal on the device in such a manner that they would be as close to the target light at the arrival time of the signal, as possible. After the participant pressed the button, the value was read from the control panel in the hands of the researcher. The participants were asked to use their dominant hands when the CAT was measured. Each subject was given three trials at each stimulus speed before starting the actual measurement. Ten measurements were taken from each stimulus speed (Slow and Fast). Stimulus speeds were randomized throughout the total of 20 trials (see Table 1) and the results were recorded in early or late milliseconds (ms). No information was provided to participants about stimulus speed. The obtained raw data was converted to absolute error score and used for statistical evaluation.

Figure 1. Coinciding Anticipation Timing Device

Table 1. Example of Stimulus Speeds in a Random Order for Middle and Outside Players


Absolute error was the measure of overall performance accuracy (7) and determined by the magnitude of the error (28, 30). The deviation from the performance criterion or goal was deduced for each performance trial regardless of plus (late) or minus (early). Absolute scores were summed; and then averaged. The value of absolute error represents the average error comitted during a series of performance attempts evaluated without reference to the direction of error (20) and is frequently used in studies related to CAT (12, 16, 17, 53)

The Newtest 1000 was placed 10 cm away from the participant on the table and the athlete was requested to put the dominant hand on the table. With “Ready” command, when the sound or light stimulus was given, athletes were asked to press buttons as soon as possible according to stimuli. Ten measurements were taken and the lowest 2 and highest 2 scores were not evaluated. The average of 6 scores was recorded as the reaction time in ms (59).


Data Analysis: The data was evaluated for statistical analysis in SPSS 18.0 program (10). A one-tailed Independent Sample t Test was used to compare the CAT and reaction time of volleyball players according to their positions. The level of significance was accepted as p < 0.05.

The age, height, body weight and body mass index of all participants were collected (see Table 2 for results broken down by position). A Shapiro-Wilk test was used to determine whether the data showed normal distribution. According to Shapiro-Wilk test, all variables showed normal distribution (see Table 3)

The aim of this study was to compare the CAT and reaction times of adolescent volleyball players according to different playing positions. In high-level ball sports, successful performance involves accurate anticipation of oncoming events under severe temporal constraints  (38, 58). When the absolute error scores of volleyball players were compared according to their playing positions, the only statistically significant difference was found in absolute error score at the Fast stimulus speed  (t = -2.090, p = .047) (see Table 4). When reaction times of volleyball players was compared according to their playing positions, only statistically significant difference was found in mixed reaction time (t = -2.090, p = .047) (see Table 5).

Table 2. The age, height, body weight and body mass index values of volleyball players participating in the study

  Playing Possition N M±S.D.
Age (years) Middle 14 15.35 ± 0.92
  Outside 14 14.64 ± 0.84
Height (cm) Middle 14 166.50 ± 6.38
  Outside 14 162.53 ± 7.36
Body Mass (kg) Middle 14 59.43 ± 8.64
  Outside 14 57.40 ± 11.37
Body Mass Index (kg/m2) Middle 14 21.34 ± 1.93
  Outside 14 21.59 ± 3.27

Table 3. Shapiro-Wilk test results of coinciding anticipation timing and reaction time according to playing position

 VariablesPlaying Possition Shapiro-Wilk 
Absolute Error Score (Slow)Middle0.877140.053
Absolute Error Score (Fast)Middle0.875140.050
Visual Reaction TimeMiddle0.956140.656
Auditory Reaction TimeMiddle0.895140.096
Mixed Reaction TimeMiddle0.957140.677

Table 4. Comparison of absolute error scores of middle and outside players at different stimulus speed (3 mph and 8 mph)

 PossitionNM ±
Absolute Error Score (Slow) (ms)Middle1416.00 ± 4.43-.391.699
 Outside14 16.77 ± 5.89  
Absolute Error Score (Fast) (ms)Middle1434.84 ± 10.31-2.090.047*
 Outside1443.24 ± 10.93  

           *p < 0.05

   Table 5. Comparison of reaction times (visual, auditory and mixed) of middle players and outside players

Visual Reaction Time (ms)Middle14420.7 ± 74.471.035.310
 Outside14395.7 ± 51.25  
Auditory Reaction Time (ms)Middle14308.6 ± 44.87-1.661.109
 Outside14344.3 ± 66.76  
Mixed Reaction Time (ms)Middle14410 ± 74.11-2.163.040*
 Outside14465.7 ± 61.61  

         *p < 0.05


It was found that the mixed reaction times and CAT performances at the Fast stimulus speed of middle players were better than outside players. The findings of this study were in parallel with the previous studies conducted by Maciel et al. (40) and Zhou (62). Middle players had better CAT and reaction time than outside players can be explained as follows; middle players, in addition to controlling the opponent’s setter in defense, are also the first and most important defense player with the blocks in three different regions of the court. They accurately analyze the actual positions, and can easily reach the desired result if they perform the anticipation and reaction ability successfully. The outside players are primarily responsible for defending over the net in their current position. Relative to the middle players, they take less responsibility. The offensive characteristics of the middle players are different from the outside players. Although there are different variations in their attack types, they make sudden and ending attacks. In this context, they have to communicate very well in seconds with both setter and other teammates. Their perceptual abilities must be very high and their motoric characteristics must be well developed. The attack characteristics of the outside players are more uniform.

Gabbett et al. (21) and Larkin et al. (36) demonstrated that video-based perceptual training improved decision accuracy, decision time and anticipatory skill. In order to achieve a high level of performance, in addition to volleyball training, it is thought that special exercises or video-based perceptual training should be done to improve the performance of the CAT and reaction time. In future studies, it is recommended to repeat this study increasing the number of samples in different age groups, different categories and elite athletes considering other playing positions (setter, libero, opposite) in volleyball players


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2019-01-10T15:43:26+00:00January 10th, 2019|Commentary, Sports Coaching|Comments Off on Comparison of Coinciding Anticipation Timing and Reaction Time Performances of Adolescent Female Volleyball Players in Different Playing Positions