In order to use virtual reality as a sport analysis tool, we need to be sure that an immersed athlete reacts realistically in a virtual environment. This has been validated for a real handball goalkeeper facing a virtual thrower. However, we currently ignore which visual variables induce a realistic motor behavior of the immersed handball goalkeeper. In this study, we used virtual reality to dissociate the visual information related to the movements of the player from the visual information related to the trajectory of the ball. Thus, the aim is to evaluate the relative influence of these different visual information sources on the goalkeeper's motor behavior. We tested 10 handball goalkeepers who had to predict the final position of the virtual ball in the goal when facing the following: only the throwing action of the attacking player (TA condition), only the resulting ball trajectory (BA condition), and both the throwing action of the attacking player and the resulting ball trajectory (TB condition). Here we show that performance was better in the BA and TB conditions, but contrary to expectations, performance was substantially worse in the TA condition. A significant effect of ball landing zone does, however, suggest that the relative importance between visual information from the player and the ball depends on the targeted zone in the goal. In some cases, body-based cues embedded in the throwing actions may have a minor influence on the ball trajectory and vice versa. Kinematics analysis was then combined with these results to determine why such differences occur depending on the ball landing zone and consequently how it can clarify the role of different sources of visual information on the motor behavior of an athlete immersed in a virtual environment.

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