About this Research Topic
We have always been fascinated by how complex skills are learned and stabilized by expert performers. Although motor learning has been seen for long merely as a process of stabilization of the optimal solution, it has been described in the recent that many pathways could be outlined to attain expertise in sports. In this view, in recent studies, the early diversification has been considered the best approach instead of early specialization. In fact, this later could lead to a lack of perceptual-motor adaptability, i.e., difficulties in how performers become attuned to affordances (opportunities for action). In that sense, it has been argued that expert performance in human movement requires a subtle balance between movement stability and flexibility.
Behavioral adaptability in expert athletes is characterized by the acquisition of stable coordination patterns (i.e. consistent over time), which are resistant to perturbations during a performance and reproducible under different task and environmental constraints. In the meantime, those coordination patterns are also flexible, not stereotyped or rigid, but can be functionally adapted to environmental changes, since neurobiological complex systems can exploit inherent degeneracy.
The ecological dynamics framework offers a rich, unifying perspective to understand and explain sports performance, based on theoretical assumptions on human behavior. The framework encapsulates concepts and ideas from both Dynamical Systems Theory and Ecological Psychology, such as self-organization, emergence, synergy, non-linearity, and non-proportionality, embodiment-embedded cognition, sense-making, experience, information-movement coupling and affordances. Thus, this theoretical framework provides an innovative perspective on talent development, motor learning in sport by highlighting a nuanced transitioning between specificity and generality of practice and transfer, as needed by each individual athlete.
Knowledge is needed that compares the experiences of developing athletes with an ecological dynamics rationale compared to an early specialization approach. This Research Topic focuses on studies (including e.g. original research, perspectives, minireviews, commentaries and opinion papers) that investigate and discuss talent development to achieve sport expertise, motor learning, and interventions such as non-linear pedagogy, differential learning, constraints-led approach, and affordances attunement.
Keywords: Expertise, talent development, movement variability, constraints-led approach, nonlinear pedagogy
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