Harnessing Socio-Cultural Constraints on Athlete Development to create a Form of Life

ROTHWELL, Martyn, DAVIDS, Keith and STONE, Joseph (2017). Harnessing Socio-Cultural Constraints on Athlete Development to create a Form of Life. In: Second Scientific Conference on Motor Skill Acquisition, Finland, 15 to 17 November 2017. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Sporting expertise is multidimensional and develops when an athlete interacts with a range of task and environmental constraints. Ecological dynamics is a suitable theoretical framework to understand these complex and dynamic interactions due to the importance placed on the person-environment mutuality. A key principle of ecological dynamics, when faced with the challenge of developing skilled performers, is the influence of task and environmental constraints on an athlete’s ability to become attuned to the affordances (opportunities for action) in a performance landscape. Athletes who are unreflectively responsive to a rich and diverse range of affordances will be better equipped to act skilfully in competition. Ecological psychologist James Gibson introduced the concept of affordances as ”the affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal” (e.g. a ball offers kicking, or a slow player offers a quick player running past, or a hard pitch offers sidestepping on). Recently several scholars have further developed Gibson’s concept of affordances, here we aim to combine these interpretations to propose that the variety of socio-cultural practices that exist in what Wittgenstein termed forms of life (e.g. behaviours and customs of our communities), can influence an athlete’s affordance responsiveness. Although recent conceptual interpretations make valuable contributions to the literature on affordances, little is known in the sport domain about how identifying a form of life can help sport padagogists to gain an understanding of how socio-cultural practices influence affordance responsiveness and sporting expertise. Understanding more about this important area can help sport padagogists to manipulate socio-cultural constraints to enhance the quality of skill and expertise acquisition in specific sports. Therefore the purpose of this presentation is to (1) provide a brief historical insight into why forms of life and the associated behaviours and customs may exist in sport performance and coaching. (2) Using examples from the sport of rugby league we discuss how recent interpretations of affordances can provide insights into how forms of life can affect an athlete’s skilled performance. Keywords: Forms of Life, Socio-cultural constraints, Affordances, Skill Acquisition.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Sports Engineering Research
Departments: Health and Well-being > Sport
Depositing User: Martyn Rothwell
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 14:29
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 15:11
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17440

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