Balancing deceit and disguise: how to successfully fool the defender in a 1 vs. 1 situation in rugby

Hum Mov Sci. 2010 Jun;29(3):412-25. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2009.12.004. Epub 2010 Apr 24.


Suddenly changing direction requires a whole body reorientation strategy. In sporting duels such as an attacker vs. a defender in rugby, successful body orientation/reorientation strategies are essential for successful performance. The aim of this study is to examine which biomechanical factors, while taking into account biomechanical constraints, are used by an attacker in a 1 vs. 1 duel in rugby. More specifically we wanted to examine how an attacker tries to deceive the defender yet disguise his intentions by comparing effective deceptive movements (DM(+)), ineffective deceptive movements (DM(-)), and non-deceptive movements (NDM). Eight French amateur expert rugby union players were asked to perform DMs and NDMs in a real 1 vs. 1 duel. For each type of movement (DM(+), DM(-), NDM) different relevant orientation/reorientation parameters, medio-lateral displacement of the center of mass (COM), foot, head, upper trunk, and lower trunk yaw; and upper trunk roll were analyzed and compared. Results showed that COM displacement and lower trunk yaw were minimized during DMs while foot displacement along with head and upper trunk yaw were exaggerated during DMs (DM(+) and DM(-)). This would suggest that the player is using exaggerated body-related information to consciously deceive the defender into thinking he will run in a given direction while minimizing other postural control parameters to disguise a sudden change in posture necessary to modify final running direction. Further analysis of the efficacy of deceptive movements showed how the disguise and deceit strategies needed to be carefully balanced to successfully fool the defender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Deception*
  • Football*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Movement*
  • Young Adult