Advances in Physical Education
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 205-208
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ape) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ape.2013.34033
Open Access 205
Effects of Differences in Manipulation and Supporting Legs and
Moving Target Speed on a Visual Tracking
Test Using Center of Pressure
Haruka Kawabata1, Shinichi Demura2, Masanobu Uchiyama3
1Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
2Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
3Akita Prefectural University, Yurihonjō, Japan
Received July 31st, 2013; revised August 31st, 2013; accepted September 7th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Haruka Kawabata et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is properly cited.
The human limbs are paired organs, each capable of independent movement. Functional laterality is found
in the upper limbs when writing letters or throwing a ball, etc. This study aimed to examine the effects of
differences in manipulation leg (ML), defined as the leg used when kicking a ball and supporting leg (SL),
as the contralateral leg, and moving target speed on a visual tracking test using center of pressure (COP).
We included 20 healthy male students (age, 22.0 ± 4.9 years; height, 172.4 ± 3.2 cm, and weight, 66.2 ±
5.0 kg) without lower limb or eye disorders. During the tracking test, subjects pursued a target moving on
the Y-axis by COP. We selected 0.083 and 0.050 Hz frequencies to examine the effect of different target
speeds. An evaluation variable was defined as total errors between moving targets and COP over 30 s. It
was assumed that individuals with smaller errors would be superior during tracking tests. A significant
difference was found between means for bilateral and unilateral stance (ML or SL) at both frequencies but
not between ML and SL, and in all standing conditions, 0.083 Hz showed a smaller error than 0.050 Hz.
In conclusion, regardless of the speed of the moving target, performance of the visual tracking test was
superior in bilateral than unilateral stance, and there was no difference between ML and SL. Regardless of
stance, test performance reduced with faster target speed, particularly with unilateral stance (about 29%).
Keywords: Coordination; Dynamic Balance; Agility; Limb Laterality
The center of pressure (COP) is used as an alternative to
center of mass (Hiiragi, 2008) for objective evaluation of the
sway center of gravity in humans (Demura et al., 2001; Kouza-
ki & Masani, 2012). COP tests for evaluation of coordination of
the whole body pursuing a randomly moving target have re-
cently been developed (Yoshida et al., 1997; Kawabata et al.,
2012). These COP tests are conducted meanwhile in standing.
It is necessary for subjects to integrate visual and somato sen-
sory information with that from the vestibular apparatus and to
exert appropriate leg muscles while maintaining a stable pos-
ture during the course of pursuing a randomly moving target. In
short, coordination of the whole body is required to perform
these tests. Coordination of balance, motor skill, dexterity, and
accuracy is required and the relative contribution of these fac-
tors differs depending on the tasks involved.
Movements of the bilateral lower limbs are broadly divided
into simultaneous and alternate ones, with the latter used most
frequently in everyday life. Because higher stability is achieved
when standing on both feet; the above tracking test is consid-
ered to be easier to accomplish in this case. Hinsie and Camp-
bell defined laterality as the predominant use of one limb dur-
ing activities such as writing, eating, watching, and hearing,
etc., while Touwen defined it as one of paired organs such as
hands or legs which is superior to the other in cognitive and
motor skills. Because studies till today have focused mainly on
the upper limbs (Nagasawa et al., 2000; Noguchi et al., 2009;
Kawabata et al., 2012; Kubota et al., 2012), there is little
knowledge on laterality of the lower limbs. However, Demura
et al. (2010) reported that when kicking a ball, humans use one
When kicking a ball, the leg used is generally termed as the
manipulation leg (ML) while the contralateral leg is the sup-
porting leg (SL) (Matsuda, 2010). When ML controls the ball,
SL contributes to maintaining body stability. Hence, when per-
forming a tracking test while standing on one leg (unilateral
stance), SL may have an advantage. Therefore, it is assumed
that performance of a tracking test using COP is superior in
bilateral rather than unilateral stance and also when standing on
SL rather than ML.
In addition, when the moving target moves faster, subjects’
COP changes accordingly, leading to increased errors between
moving target and COP and reduction in the accuracy of track-
ing the moving target. Hence, it was assumed that when the
target moves faster, performance is reduced in both bilateral
and unilateral stance.
H. KAWABATA ET AL.
Although laterality of the upper limbs is recognized (Naga-
sawa et al., 2000; Kawabata et al., 2012; Noguchi et al., 2009),
Matsuda et al. (2010) reported that in unilateral stance, no clear
difference was found between ML and SL in a basic-level dif-
ficulty task. Because the visual tracking test used in this study
demands that subjects pursue a moving target in unilateral
stance without moving the feet, the level of test difficulty was
considerably higher and it was assumed that the test would
show a significant difference between bilateral and unilateral
stance and between ML and SL.
This study aimed to determine the effects of different stances
and moving target speeds on a visual tracking test.
We included 20 healthy young males (age, 22.0 ± 4.9 years;
height, 172.4 ± 3.2 cm; weight, 66.2 ± 5.0 kg) without lower
limb or eye disorders. The manipulation leg (ML) was defined
as the one used for kicking a ball according to the survey items
of Demura et al. (2010). The contralateral leg was defined as
the supporting leg (SL). Before testing, the aims and procedures
were explained to all subjects in detail, and written informed
consent was obtained. The protocol of this study was approved
by the Ethics Committee on Human Experimentation of the
Faculty of Human Science, Kanazawa University.
The Visual Tracking Test Using Cop
The visual tracking test involves pursuing a moving target by
COP displayed on a PC monitor. During the test, errors be-
tween moving target and COP are recorded over time. When
errors were smaller, it was adjudged that subjects were capable
of pursuing the target. In anatomical terms, movement of the
human ankle is limited mediolaterally rather than anteroposte-
riorly. In the unilateral stance, displacement of the center of
gravity in the mediolateral direction is more difficult than that
in the anteroposterior direction. Hence, in this study, the mov-
ing target was set to move vertically on the Y-axis. An evalua-
tion variable was the total of errors between the moving target
and COP over 30 s. When the total error was smaller, coordina-
tion was judged to be superior.
The experimental device was a force plate prototype (Takei,
Japan), comprising a force platform, A/D converter, and feed-
back display (67 cm; resolution 2560 × 1440). This unit is ca-
pable of calculating the COP of vertical loads from the values
of three vertical load sensors placed at the corners of an isosce-
les triangle on a level surface. The size of the square displayed
on the monitor was 1cm square and movement distance of the
target was the same as that displayed on the monitor (Figures 1
The sampling time and frequency were 30 s and 50 Hz, re-
spectively. Yoshida et al. conducted a similar test with bilateral
stance over 60 s, but we used a shorter time to avoid the likeli-
hood of subjects' fatigue of lower limbs due to being performed
by bilateral stance. The monitor for visual feedback was
placed at a distance of 1.5 m from subjects and at eye level.
Test and Test Proced ur e
Subjects stood holding their arms down with feet 5 cm apart
(bilateral stance) or with one foot on the center of the platform
(unilateral stance) (Figure 3). Measurement was started fol-
lowing a sign given by the tester. After one practice trial, sub-
jects performed 5 further trials with breaksof1 min between
trials. To avoid the effect of order, measurement of unilateral
stance was performed at random. The target moved within a
range of ±3.0 cm around the center on the feedback monitor. It
moved along the sinusoidal waveform with amplitude of 3.0 cm
on the Y-axis at a speed of either 0.083 Hz (1.0 cm/s) or 0.050
Hz (6.0 cm/s). Subjects’ COP was set to automatically display
the origin on the screen at the start of the test.
View of the monitor screen during testing.
Measurement scenery ((a) Both legs, (b) One leg).
H. KAWABATA ET AL.
Open Access 207
SPSS 10.4 J software package (IBM, USA) was used for data
analysis. The representative value for all conditions tested was
the mean of three trials (maximum and minimum values were
excluded). Two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with cor-
respondence in only one factor was used to test differences
among means. When significance was found in the main factor
or interaction, a multiple comparison test using Tukey’s HSD
method was performed. The level of significance was set a
priori at 0.05 in this study.
Table 1 shows the mean and standard deviation for bilateral
leg (BL), ML, and SL at both 0.083 and 0.050 Hz. A significant
difference was found in the factors “main effect of moving
target speed” and “stance”. Results of multiple comparison
showed that the mean at both 0.083 and 0.050 Hz was lower in
BL (772.8) than in both ML (885.8) and SL (906.1), but no
significant difference was found between means of ML and SL.
In addition, the mean at 0.050 Hz was significantly lower than
that at 0.083 Hz for BL, ML, and SL. Effect of size (ES) at
0.083 Hz was 1.26 between BL and MS and 1.50 between BL
and SL. ES at 0.050 Hz was 2.32 between BL and ML and 2.83
between BL and SL.
Different Stance and Speed of Moving Target Affect
the Visual Tracking Test When Using C o p
Movement of the ankle joint plays an important role during
physical activities and also markedly affects posture control. If
ankle motion is not smooth, maintaining a stable posture
against perturbation in addition to walking and running be-
comes difficult. In this study, to evaluate postural control abil-
ity before and after direction, a tracking test using COP was
conducted under conditions of different target speed (0.050 and
0.083 Hz) and different stance (BL, SL, and ML).
Bilateral stance is generally more stable than unilateral be-
cause of larger base of support. In contrast, ML is generally
used when kicking a ball or treading. When ML is used during
certain movements, SL maintains a stable posture to allow ML
to function normally. In short, the two legs perform different
tasks at the same time. The present findings show that per-
formance in unilateral stance is significantly lower than that in
bilateral; therefore, bilateral stance and higher stability are con-
sidered to positively influenced performance of the tracking
Touwen defined laterality as one of paired organs such as
hands or legs is superior to the other in the performance of cog-
nitive and motor skills. Nagasawa et al. (2000), Kawabata et al.
(2012), and Noguchi et al. (2009) reported that laterality exists
in the upper limbs and that the dominant hand was superior in
the purdue pegboard, the pursuit rotor, and the coordinated
force exertion tests. Coren investigated the dominant leg in a
study of 3307 males and females (age, 17 - 35 years) and re-
ported that 83.9% of males and 88.9% of females tended to
have the right leg as the dominant lower limb. In the present
study, the ML for all subjects was the right leg.
In a visual tracking test, it was assumed that when standing
on ML it would be easy to pursue the moving target to obtain
good results. However, a nonsignificant difference was found
between the means of SL and BL. Either side can be used pre-
dominantly in the upper limbs but the lower limbs are used
equally during activities such as walking, running, etc. In short,
because neither leg is used predominantly, it is inferred that any
difference between ML and SL is as marked as that between
dominant and nondominant upper limbs.
Effects of Speed of a Moving Target on V i s ual
Tracking Test Using Cop
The tracking test using a moving target is similar to balance
tests such as the cross test (Tsukimura & Ikeda, 1982) and the
functional reach test (Dancan et al., 1990) in terms of dis-
placement of the COP with legs stationary as the support base.
According to Hase (2006), the center of gravity is displaced
forward when the soleus muscle is activated and backward
when the anterior tibial and quadriceps muscles are activated.
In short, the lower limb muscle group (e.g., quadriceps femoris
muscle, hamstrings, tibial is anterior muscle, triceps surae mus-
cle) is most involved in maintaining standing posture. In this
tracking test, subjects were required to operate the feed-forward
control to displace the COP either forward or backward ac-
cording to movements of the target and to move the center of
gravity quickly when the speed of the moving target increased.
It was assumed that the burden on the leg muscle group in-
creases because of the above effect. We inferred that any fac-
tors increasing the speed of the moving target increase the dif-
ficulty of the test.
Kawabata et al. (2012) conducted a tracking test on subjects
in bilateral stance using a target moving at an average speed of
0.083 Hz. However, the present study used two different test
speeds to examine the effect of these to include testing in uni-
Tracking test scores were less for ML and SL at 0.083 Hz
than at 0.050 Hz, with the error at 0.083 Hzbeing greater than
that at 0.050 Hz by approximately 4% and 29% for bilateral and
unilateral stance, respectively. This implies that it was difficult
for subjects to pursue the moving target when its speed increased.
The visual tracking test used in this study can be useful in
Mean, standard deviation, and results of ANOVA in visual tracking test using COP.
BL ML SL Two-way ANOVA Post-hoc of HSD
Mean SD MeanSD Mean SD F p Partial η2
0.083 Hz 772.8 160.2 885.8192.8 906.1 227.718.77*0.000.33 All conditions: 0.083 Hz > 0.05 Hz
0.05 Hz 541.3 92.7 686.2140.6 704.8 139.650.80*0.000.57 0.083 Hz: BL < ML (0.64), SL (0.68)
0.63 0.540.02 0.05 Hz: BL < ML (1.21), SL (0.49)
Not : *p < 0.05, F1: Speed of moving target, F2: Standing posture, F3: Interaction, (): effect size BL: both legs, ML: manipulation leg, SL: supporting leg. e
H. KAWABATA ET AL.
evaluating the ability to coordinate COP with a moving target
using visual feedback. It was determined that test performance
was more stable in bilateral than in unilateral stance, and later-
ality was not found in the lower limbs. Although the coordina-
tion ability of the whole body is very important for skillful
competitive sports, the development of a simple and practical
evaluation test has not received much attention till date. In ad-
dition, during certain sports events (e.g., soccer), coordination
in unilateral stance is more important than that in bilateral
stance (e.g., ski-jumping). From the findings of this study, in
case of athletes requiring high levels of skill, a coordination test
in unilateral stance involving a high level of difficulty provides
useful information, and distinction between dominant and non-
dominant leg may be unnecessary.
In conclusion, regardless of the speed (0.083/0.050 Hz) of
the moving target, performance in the tracking test was superior
in bilateral stance than in unilateral stance, but no differences
between ML and SL were noted. Regardless of the stance, per-
formance declines when the speed of the moving target in-
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