Thursday, 21 March 2013

Familarity in Sport

"2012 BU Football" By Bethal Athletics
This morning our class was held in a tutorial room rather than in the sports hall which is our usual meeting place. The reason we were a classroom was to go over our assessment items as appose to participate in a practical class. However Keith did raise an interesting point about learning in a different environment and the stimulus a new environment may provide.

This got me thinking about familiarity, we as humans seem to be attracted to the notion of familiarity. I know myself I am more comfortable in an environment I am familiar with. Some personal examples of familiarity include finding my favourite coffee shop at uni and seldom daring to visit the four or five other coffee spots on campus. I have a particular section of the lecture theatre I always sit in depending on which room I'm in, and I have a particular seat at the dinner table I sit in every night when I enjoy a meal with my family.

Thinking of familiarity from a sporting perspective we know many athletes are the same. They have their own warm up procedures or rituals they participate in before training and competition. This preparation allows the athlete to gain the appropriate mind set before competition. Familiarity can also occur during a game (mainly in team sports), athletes may get used to a particular playing combination and can throw the ball knowing the other player is going to be there to receive it even without looking.

But what if something unforeseen was to happen that destroyed this familiarity the athlete had become accustom to? I'm not talking about playing an away game at a different venue as this happens regularly in most team sports at all levels of competition. But what if the team bus is late decreasing warm time or an athlete is injured during a game meaning a complete reshuffle of positions?
"Pigeons" By Ambernectar 13
It is often seen in professional sport, particularly team sports where something unexpected occurs and completely throws the players on the field, which is reflected in their performance.

So therefore is it an idea to on occasion to throw a cat among the pigeons at training? Throw the athletes a curve ball and see what response they can come up with?                                                 

There would of course be practical implications with this and coaching staff would have to think carefully about how this could be implemented in a safe setting.

However I do believe this would help to train athletes to respond to unforseen circumstance and to learn to expect the unexpected.

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