Home » Paola Cesari » Invited session on ”Sport expertise: putting brain, body, and environment together again“

Invited session on ”Sport expertise: putting brain, body, and environment together again“

In this symposium we discuss how brain, body and environment can come together to explain expertise in sport. From an ecological dynamics approach, the performer-environment relationship forms the basis for understanding the development of expertise. Performers are conceptualised as complex, neurobiological systems, which are continuously changing over different timescales. In such systems, inherent self-organisation tendencies lead to the emergence of adaptive behaviours under a range of interacting task and environmental constraints. Intentions, perceptions and actions are intertwined processes, which underpin the functional movement solutions assembled by each learner during the development of expertise.


During learning, the role of movement pattern variability is fundamental in supporting the exploratory behaviours needed to seek and establish functional movement solutions by each individual performer. In this region the performer does not act in a manner that is either completely independent or completely dependent on the environment. Rather, she functions in a state of relative coordination with the performance environment and task. Since the dynamic nature of changing task constraints in sports cannot be predicted in advance, these ideas imply that talent programmes should focus on developing circumstances for expert performance rather than attempting to identify expert performers.

Duarte Araújo

Duarte Araújo

The first speaker Professor Duarte Araújo from University of Lisbon, Portugal, will highlight innovative measurement tools, which might be used in research and practice to capture the emergence of coordinated behaviours in sports teams, based on the formation of interpersonal synergies between players resulting from collective actions predicated on shared affordances. These tools are suitable to reveal the idiosyncratic collective behaviours of sports teams, particularly their coordination of effort and the more frequent patterns of communication and interactions between team players.

Paola Cesari

The second speaker, Professor Paola Cesari, University of Verona, Italy, will present several experiments showing the exceptional ability that basketball and soccer players along with professional dancers have in pre-programming and in anticipating the actions in which they excel. An elite athlete needs the ability to predict and anticipate the behavior of other players. Paola Cesari proposes that by observing others’ actions one may imply a covert simulation of the very same action, a process likely crucial in both imitative and non-imitative motor learning.

Ludovic Seifert

Ludovic Seifert

The third speaker, Professor Ludovic Seifert from University of Rouen, France, will identify key properties of expertise in sport predicated on the performer-environment relationship. Key properties of expert movement systems include multi- and meta-stability, adaptive variability, degeneracy and the attunement to affordances. These key properties signify that, in sport performance, although basic movement patterns need to be acquired by developing athletes, there exists no ideal movement template towards which all learners should aspire, since relatively unique functional movement solutions emerge from the interaction of key constraints. In this talk, key properties of expertise are exemplified in swimming and climbing.

The invited session [IS-BN02] Sport expertise: putting brain, body, and environment together again will start 10:20 Friday 26th June in Lecture room “High Live 4”

Post by Paola Cesari
University of Verona, Italy


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