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Utilising Representative Learning Design to Underpin the Measurement and Development of Cricket Batting Expertise

Connor, Jonathan Douglas (2018) Utilising Representative Learning Design to Underpin the Measurement and Development of Cricket Batting Expertise. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

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Abstract

This thesis explored the skills underpinning expertise during an interceptive timing task through the lens of a representative learning design approach. This was achieved by: (1) examining what skilful behaviours cricket batting experts perceive to be critical to performance; (2) developing a representative skills assessment based on the batting experts perceptions and extant scientific literature; and (3) assessing the efficacy of two different practice approaches on developing the aforementioned skilful behaviours underpinning expertise. In study 1, interviews with expert cricket coaches, whom were formally highly skilled batters, revealed the multi-dimensional nature of expert performance. This encompassed the need to possess extremely proficient coordinative, cognitive, perceptual and psychological skills. Additional emergent themes included the need to be attuned to the performance environment, and the continuously evolving landscape of affordances. A temporal model of batting was created from these themes, which encompassed: (1) A general search for information about their upcoming game; (2) followed by a more specific search and attunement to the performance environment, as the batter prepares to bat; (3) culminating in the moment of ball delivery, where the batter perceives and acts based on their intentions and the trajectory of the ball; (4) concluding with their between-ball routine whereby the batter reflects on the previous delivery, relaxes by engaging in task irrelevant thoughts, and then refocuses both their intentions and attention. Given the significance of the performance environment to expert performance, study 2 examined the differences between advanced cricket batters (professional state-level) and their less-skilled counterparts, using a representative learning design framework. During this scenario, advanced batters were found to have scored more runs than both intermediate and basic skill level batters; underpinned by their ability to play more scoring shots, as well as achieve superior bat-ball contact and footwork technique ratings. The more novel findings of this experiment were that advanced batters demonstrated greater flexibility in their shot selection (i.e. vertical and horizontal bat shots), while displaying greater stability in their foot movements (predominately played shots off the front foot). Also, contrary to previous findings, the timings of key movements (i.e. front foot movement and downswing of the bat) were found to be executed later by advanced batters relative to those less-skilled. When interviewed between overs, advanced batters reported their cognitions to be more externally focused, such as describing their strategies to score runs, rather than their less-skilled counterparts, who reported more internal factors such as achieving bat-ball contact or making technical changes. Finally, advanced batters had significantly lower reported levels of nervousness prior to their performance than both intermediate and basic skill level cricket batters. These findings highlight the skill level differences between interacting actions, cognitions and emotions of cricket batters, occurring within a real-world performance environment. The final study compared the efficacy of two different practice approaches to developing those skills underpinning cricket batting expertise; specifically, the interacting actions, cognitions and emotions. Following 10-weeks of practice underpinned by a constraints-led approach (CLA) or traditional practice approach (TPA), participants in the CLA group shifted their cognitions to be more externally focused on factors such as scoring runs, while concurrently increasing the number of runs scored during the post-intervention skills-test scenario. This was a result of the CLA group executing a greater number of scoring shots, improved bat-ball contact and footwork technique ratings, compared to both their pre-intervention results and the TPA group post-intervention. The TPA group had little to no reported changes in their cognitions, while also demonstrating no significant differences in the number of runs scored, number of scoring shots, bat-ball contact or footwork technique rating from pre to post-intervention. Both groups also had a reduction in their reported nervousness levels from pre to post-intervention. Finally, the CLA group reported higher levels of enjoyment, challenge, and cognitive demand during their practice sessions compared to the TPA group. No difference was reported for the level of physical demands associated with practice, for either practice group. This experiment provides evidence for the efficacy of a CLA approach to coaching talented cricket batters. Creating practice environments that maintain appropriate perception-action couplings, and ensure intentions are in-line with performance demands, leads to the emergence of more functional movement solutions and cognitions commensurate with game play. The combined findings of this investigation extends our understanding of the skills underpinning expertise, how these skills manifest during performance across various skill levels, and how different practice approaches can impact their development. A key feature of this analysis is the consideration given to the role of the performance environment in shaping an individual’s behaviours. Representative learning design is an effective tool for researchers and practitioners investigating the manifestation of skilful behaviours, or seeking to expedite its development. Future research concerned with assessing or developing skills underpinning expertise, within environments that are characteristic of real-world settings, should consider adopting this approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Uncontrolled Keywords: cricket; skill development; skill acquisition; skilled behaviours; batting; batsmen; performance; interceptive timing; coaching; training
Subjects: FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute for Health and Sport
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2019 00:38
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2019 00:38
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/37847
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