We take a movement centric approach to training our athletes, which is backwards from the weight room centric approach most S&Cs take. We value the weight room, but it is only an accessory to our actual movement training.
With that being said, we try to base our movement training and subsequent learning process from an ecological, CLA, rep without rep standpoint rather than a perfect practice, mental model, rep after rep standpoint.
With this process has come the difficult task of communicating with coaches as the terminology used are not likely to be seen in college classes or in common coach interactions. This is sad because the literature is rich and deep in this area and very valuable for all coaches to be familiar with. Being on the same page, and understanding the basic terminology will help coaches have meaningful discussion on these topics.
Below are basic "definitions" of key terms that are common in movement discussions and will help put everybody on the same playing field. You will also find some important books to consider, numerous research articles to explore, podcasts that clearly layout and discuss these principles, and websites that contain great information.
A big thanks to Tyler Yearby (@TylerYearby) for his help and contributions to this work. Many of the following are additions and inserts from his study, so the thoroughness of this list is in major part to him!
Have fun exploring this deep rabbit hole!
- Affordances: Opportunities for action.
The environment offers “ability” of actions – the ball has catch-ability, the gap has jump-ability, the space has run-ability. Affordances are dynamic; they can change over short and long time scales based on changes in the environment, task, and organism.
Information in the environment is directly perceived, which contains affordances (opportunities for action). Information specifies affordances, those properties of the environment whose perceived meaning is the actions they both allow and invite and organism to perform (Araujo, D., & Davids, K., 2011).
- Constraints Led Approach: Framework to explain how coordination emerges under constraints (Individual, task, environment) that operate under differing time scales. (Newell, 1986)
- Constraints: Internal or external boundaries, limitations, or design features that restrict the number of possible configurations that the many degrees of freedom of a complex system can adapt. (Glazier, 2015. Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance). Constraints can have spatial or temporal components or both, they reside at all levels of analysis from microscopic to macroscopic, and they operate over a multitude of different time scales, from milliseconds to years. Actions are not caused by constraints; rather, some actions are excluded by them. Typically we consider three types of constraints...
- Task Constraints: Specific to the task being performed. They are related to the goal of the task and the rules governing the task. They are not physical, rather they are implied constraints or requirements which must be met within some tolerance range in order for the movement to produce a successful action. (Glazier, 2015. Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance)
- Individual (Organism) Constraints: Reside in the individual movement system including those of physically, physiologically, morphologically and psychologically. (Glazier, 2015. Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance)
- Environmental Constraints: External to the movement system. They tend to be non-specific that pertain to the spatial and temporal layout of the surrounding world that continually act on the movement system ie playing surface, weather, ambient light, crowd noise, temperature. (Glazier, 2015. Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance)
- Ecological Dynamics: Considers athletes and sports teams as complex adaptive systems and examines the emergence of sports performance at the level of the performer-environment relationship and is distinguished by constraints of each individual performer and physical characteristics of participation locations for athletes activities, but also by social and cultural factors surrounding performance. (Araujo, Davids & Hristovski, 2006)
Ecological Dynamics framework sustains a scientific approach to studying the behaviors of neurobiological systems, especially processes of action, perception and cognition (Ecological Dynamics: a theoretical framework for understanding sport performance, physical education and physical activity, Seifert, l. & Davids, K., 2016).
Kugler and Turvey  considered that "Ecological science….is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of living systems, their environments and the reciprocity that has evolved between the two (I also liked this from the same paper).
- Ecological Psychology: A field of psychology where perception is the functional act of picking up information from the environment to use for regulating movement, NOT for enhancing its automaticity.
- Representative Environment: is a framework for assessing the degree to which experimental or practice tasks simulate key aspects of specific performance environments (i.e. competition). The key premise being that when practice replicates the performance environment, skills are more likely to transfer (Krause, Farrow, Reid, Buszard, Pinder, 2018)
- Dexterity: Ability to discover a motor solution for any external situation. Bernstein further stated that dexterity is demonstrated by the ability to solve a motor problem correctly, quickly, rationally, resourcefully. (Bernstein, Dexterity and it’s Development). Dexterity is not a property of the movements themselves, rather in the processes of the solutions
- Motor Control: How the nervous system interacts with other body parts and the environment to produce purposeful, coordinated movements. (Latash, 2012. The Bliss of Motor Abundance)
- Technique: Technique can be considered the kinematics used during a movement. BUT the study of kinematics alone does accurately describe HOW that technique emerged.
It is better to think of technique as the execution of a decision. Technique is linked to the information source, so it isn’t absolute or permanent; it varies depending on the context in which a movement is being asked. Technique is a result of individual, task and environmental constraints of a particular movement. Technique is the outcome of intention and perception, thus technique needs to be studied in that realm.
- Action Fidelity: The complete movement action (intention-perception-action) is an accurate (it looks, feels and acts) “picture” of sport.
- Non-Linear Pedagogy: A learner-centered approach to skill acquisition. An umbrella term for teaching and coaching that uses task and environment design to develop skill acquisition, where each learner will have individual periods and rates of learning.
- Repetition Without Repetition: The process of practice consists of the gradual success of a search for optimal motor solutions to the appropriate problems. Because of this, practice, when properly undertaken, does not consist in repeating the means of solution of a motor problem time after time, but in the process of solving this problem again and again by techniques which we changed and perfected from repetition to repetition. (Bernstein, 1967; The Co-ordination and Regulation of Movement)
- Differential Learning: Takes advantage of fluctuations in a complex system by increasing them through no two repetitions being the same by constantly changing movement tasks creating perturbations to the complex system.
- Decision-Making: Can be viewed as a functional and emergent process in which a selection is made among converging paths of actions for an intended goal (Araujo, Davids, Chow, Passos, Raab, 2009). Learning to make successful decisions is concerned with the education of intention, attunement, calibration and mastering perceptual-motor degrees of freedom.
- Degrees of Freedom: There are multiple ways for humans to perform a movement in order to achieve the same goal. There is no simple, one-way, to perform a movement. Complex movements, involving a greater number of “moving parts” (joints, muscles) involve greater amounts of degrees of freedom.
- Contextual Interference: Memory and performance disruption that results from practicing multiple skills in the context of a practice session. In general, the contextual interference phenomenon of learning during practice = more interference during practice leads to better learning than less interference.
- Time Scales: Rates of change in motor learning
- Explicit Learning: Learner acquires skill and knowledge deliberately and consciously.
- Implicit Learning: Learner acquires skills and knowledge without conscious awareness.
- Dynamic Systems Theory: Non-Linear systems of highly inter-connected systems composed of many interacting parts, capable of constantly changing their state of organization.
- Bernstein said, “Coordination is overcoming excessive degrees of freedom of our movement organs, that is, turning the movement organs into controllable systems.”
- Gibson said, “Actions emergent in the temporary couplings formed among the individual and the environment.”
- Newell said, "Coordination can be viewed as the function that constrain the potentially free variables (DoF) of a system into a behavioral unit (movement solution)”
Coordination is a property of the solution that emerges from each individuals movement system in response to the constraints the system is facing.
- Emergent Movement: Movement behavior or solution that results from the interaction of task, environment and individual constraints.
- Self-Organization: Ability of a system to spontaneously organize itself into patterns of coordination. Specific stable patterns form through organization of the available DOF as coordinated movement during complex actions as a product of the constraints that are placed upon it.
- Degeneracy: Human movement system degeneracy is the ability of the athlete to effectively perform a movement in a variety of different ways through varying levels of complexity.
- Effectivities: Capabilities of the individual
- Skill acquisition/adaptation: A functional performer-environment relationship (Araujo & Davids, 2011). Or a reciprocal functional relationship between and individual and the environment.
- Araújo, D., & Davids, K. (2011). What exactly is acquired during skill acquisition?. Journal of Consciousness Studies,18(3-1), 7-23.
- Seifert, L., Button, C., & Davids, K. (2013). Key properties of expert movement systems in sport. Sports Medicine, 43(3), 167-178.
- Davids, K., Glazier, P., Araújo, D., & Bartlett, R. (2003). Movement systems as dynamical systems. Sports medicine,33(4), 245-260.
- Glazier, P. S. (2017). Towards a grand unified theory of sports performance. Human movement science, 56, 139-156.
- Bartlett, R., Wheat, J., & Robins, M. (2007). Is movement variability important for sports biomechanists?. Sports biomechanics, 6(2), 224-243.
- Latash, M. L. (2012). The bliss (not the problem) of motor abundance (not redundancy). Experimental brain research,217(1), 1-5.
- Glazier, P. S., & Davids, K. (2009). Constraints on the complete optimization of human motion. Sports Medicine,39(1), 15-28.
- Strafford, B. W., Van Der Steen, P., Davids, K., & Stone, J. A. (2018). Parkour as a donor sport for athletic development in youth team sports: insights through an ecological dynamics lens. Sports medicine-open, 4(1), 21.
- Renshaw, I., Davids, K., Araújo, D., Lucas, A., Roberts, W. M., Newcombe, D. J., & Franks, B. (2018). Evaluating Weaknesses of “Cognitive-Perceptual Training” and “Brain Training” Methods in Sport: An Ecological Dynamics Critique.Frontiers in Psychology.
- Franks, B., Newcombe, D., Roberts, W. M., & Jakeman, J. (2017). Shhh… We're talking about the Quiet Eye! A Perceptual Approach to the Transfer of Skill: Quiet Eye as an Insight into Perception-Action Coupling in Elite Football.
- van der Kamp, J., Dicks, M., Navia, J., & Noël, B. (2018). Goalkeeping in the soccer penalty kick: it is time we take affordance-based control seriously!. Sportwissenschaft, 48(2), 169-175.
- Teques, P., Araújo, D., Seifert, L., del Campo, V. L., & Davids, K. (2017). The resonant system: linking brain–body–environment in sport performance☆. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 234, pp. 33-52). Elsevier.
- Farrow, D., & Robertson, S. (2017). Development of a skill acquisition periodisation framework for high-performance sport. Sports Medicine, 47(6), 1043-1054.
- Spiteri, T., McIntyre, F., Specos, C., & Myszka, S. (2018). Cognitive Training for Agility: The Integration Between Perception and Action. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 40(1), 39-46.
- Nimphius, S., Callaghan, S. J., Spiteri, T., & Lockie, R. G. (2016). Change of direction deficit: A more isolated measure of change of direction performance than total 505 time.Journal of strength and conditioning research, 30(11), 3024-3032.
- Hart, N. H., Spiteri, T., Lockie, R. G., Nimphius, S., & Newton, R. U. (2014). Detecting deficits in change of direction performance using the preplanned multidirectional Australian Football League agility test. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(12), 3552-3556.
- Jeffreys, I. (2011). A task-based approach to developing context-specific agility. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(4), 52-59.
- Jeffreys, I., Huggins, S., & Davies, N. (2018). Delivering a gamespeed-focused speed and agility development program in an English premier league soccer academy. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 40(3), 23-32.
- Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition – Chow, Davids, Renshaw, Button
- Dynamics of Skill Acquisition – Davids, Button, Bennett
- Dexterity and It’s Development - Bernstein
- Routledge Handbook of Sport Expertise – Baker & Farrow
- Motor Learning in Practice – A Constraints Led Approach – Renshaw, Davids, Savelsbergh
- Skill Acquisition in Sport: Research, Theory & Practice – Hodges & Williams
- Developing Sport Expertise: Researchers and Coaches Put Theory into Practice – Farrow, Baker & MacMahon
- Gamespeed – Ian Jeffreys
- The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception – JJ Gibson
- Visual Perception and Action in Sport – Davids, Williams & Williams
- Performance Psychology: Perception, Action, Cognition, and Emotion – Raab, Lobinger, Hoffmann, Pizzera, Laborde
- Thinking In Systems: A Primer – Meadows & Wright
- Complex Systems in Sport – Davids
- Simplexity: Simplifying Principles for a Complex World - Berthoz
- Visual Perception: Physiology, Psychology, and Ecology – Bruce, Green, Georgeson