Manipulating constraints to train decision making in Rugby Union

Passos, Pedro, Araújo, Duarte, Davids, Keith W., & Shuttleworth, Richard (2008) Manipulating constraints to train decision making in Rugby Union. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 3(1), pp. 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.

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ID Code: 18112
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Constraints-led approach, Decision-making training, Dynamical systems, Ecological psychology, Rugby
DOI: 10.1260/174795408784089432
ISSN: 1747-9541
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Motor Control (110603)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Deposited On: 26 Apr 2009 22:22
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:43

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