The study of decision-making behavior in sport
Research on decision-making in sport has received increasing attention by sport scientists during the last decade (Araújo, 2011). In fact we see that different theoretical perspectives, methodologies (García-Gonzalez, Araújo, Carvalho & del Villar, 2011; Williams & Abernethy, 2012), and applications to training (Ibáñez-Gijón, Travieso, Jacobs, 2011, Carvalho, Araújo, García-Gonzalez & Iglesias, 2011; Causer, Janelle, Vickers & Williams, 2012; Davids, Araújo, Hristovski, Passos & Chow, 2012) are very consolidated. In the next lines we emphasise the ecological dynamics approach. This approach avoids the “organismic asymmetry” (Davids & Araújo, 2010), i.e., looking only to the organism’s interior, between input and output, but aims to capture the reciprocal interaction between individual and environment.
Skilled behaviour consists of intentional adaptation to the constraints imposed by the environment during task performance (e.g., Araújo & Davids, 2009). In ecological dynamics, for a given task, a performer and the performance environment are treated as a pair of dynamical sub-systems that are coupled and interact mechanically and informationally. Their continuous interactions give rise to behavioural dynamics, a vector field with stable, avoided and changing system states. Sudden transitions in behaviours indicate that decisions emerge in the ‘intending-perceiving-acting cycle’. These ideas imply that there should be a strong emphasis on the specificity of the relations between the individual and environment, in designing representative settings both for experiments and practice in sport (Davids et al., 2012).
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