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Application Of Dynamical Systems Theory To Improve Sports Performance

2970 words - 12 pages

Most coaches will agree that a competitive game is a source of unpredictability and uncertainty for all players. A major task faced by all coaches is, How to prepare the athletes and reduce the uncertainty faced by players in all potential performance outcomes? Hanford 2006(1) questions “do traditional training methods in team ball games typically prepare players for the certainty of their actions” i.e., to be consistent, instead preparing players for game uncertainty? By uncertainty, meaning the unpredictability about the potential outcome of interactions amongst opponents and team-mates during a match.

Successful sports performance, often require quick recognition and an appropriate reaction to various random sporting situations (Holmberg 2009). Research by Williams and David’s (1998) state that task relevant cues dictate the Individual to athletes select and refine movements, which include opponents and or an external object ,as in rugby this would be the ball or another player. Such movements are important to sports performance and it is the role of the S&C (strength and conditioning) coach to enhance this performance. Research by Passos et al (2006[5]) Identifies that many popular coaching methods adopted, seek to decrease the variability of actions in players and reduce the uncertainty of their decision making processes (e.g., skills practice unopposed, or with passive opposition, rationale being to facilitate the skills performance; or by the use of repetitive drills to potentially reduce the uncertainty of movement in skill performance). Davids et al (2008) recognize that this trend in coaching mirrors a significant proposal in psychological science that automatising motor skill performance can reduce the information-processing burden on individuals.

Competitive team games such as rugby however are not stable contexts in which outcomes and information is certain. Successful players need to adapt to the dynamically changing environment that characterises the game. Despite the limited effectiveness of traditional training methods at specific periods of the season, Lebed (2006) (7) argues that these kinds of methods are not sufficient to prepare the players for the non-linear characteristics of a competitive match and that they could potentially be encouraging players to become predictable. Lebed (2006) noted and Critics that traditional methods focus on the consistent performance of specific skills by the individual or group of players rather than then player-environment relationship (e.g. traditional focuses on movement stability, whereas the later focuses on adaptability, variability in movement patterns, interaction with opponents , team mates and environment ).

Team games such as rugby, may be viewed as complex system, as they are highly integrated, being composed of multiple components (e.g. individual players) with patterns of behaviour emerging in dynamically changing environments. During a competitive game, the...

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