Manipulating constraints to train decision making in Rugby Union

PASSOS, P, ARAÚJO, D, DAVIDS, K and SHUTTLEWORTH, R (2008). Manipulating constraints to train decision making in Rugby Union. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 3 (1), 125-140.

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This paper focuses on the paradoxical relationship between game unpredictability and the certainty of players' actions in team ball sports. Our research on this relationship leads us to suggest a method for training decision making, which we exemplify in the team sport of Rugby Union. The training methodology is based on application of theoretical insights from ecological psychology, complex dynamical systems and the constraints-led approach. The paper starts with a critical overview of traditional approaches to studying decision making in sport. Next we describe the sport of Rugby Union to exemplify a complex dynamical system, and explain how that conceptualisation captures the interactions of players within that performance context. We conclude our analysis by describing how to manipulate task constraints to improve decision-making performance, as players search for an appropriate blend of stability and variability in their actions. In the final part of the paper, we suggest some methods to train decision making based on four stages: i) identifying the problem; ii) setting out a strategy to solve it; iii) creating an action model; and iv) building a decision-making exercise. The main conclusion from our work for coaches and sports scientists is that decision making should be improved through training methods that provide an accurate balance between stability of actions, which gives structure to the players' performance, and variability, which allows them to cope with the uncertainty of situational constraints, such as the behaviour of specific opponents.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Sports Engineering Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 125-140
Depositing User: Carole Harris
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2011 08:33
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 00:45

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