Enhancing representative practice design through consideration of affective and situational constraints in combat sports

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Maloney, Michael Adrian (2018) Enhancing representative practice design through consideration of affective and situational constraints in combat sports. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The overarching aim of this thesis was to examine the usefulness of a variety of existing combat sport practice tasks using representative learning design (RLD) as a framework. To date, RLD has largely focused on ensuring practice tasks sample the physical task and environmental informational constraints that support behaviour in competition. While useful, such empirical work has neglected to consider the role of emotions in training design. This thesis contains three experimental studies examining affect and representative practice design using taekwondo as a task vehicle. The first study explored the impact of a competitive opponent on action selection and interpersonal behaviour in taekwondo by examining the behavioural correspondence between two common combat tasks: striking a representative dynamic target and a non-representative static target. Findings revealed that low behavioural correspondence between static and dynamic targets as emergent striking actions were uniquely constrained by each task. The second study compared the affective, cognitive and behavioural demands of combat practice relative to competition. The findings revealed that the affective and cognitive demands of practice do not represent competition and are associated with behaviour that does not represent how players act in competition. The final study tested the hypothesis that situational information could enhance the affective and cognitive demands of practice tasks by manipulating the presence of a live scoreboard. Results revealed that scoreboard presence lead to greater arousal and anxiety. These increased affective demands were associated with player behaviour that more closely represented the competition behaviour from the previous study. In summary, this doctoral thesis contributes to an expanding body of work that advocates the use of principled theoretical and methodological frameworks to design sports practice tasks. The specific contributions include i) how affect and cognition influence action selection and action fidelity, and ii) the conceptualisation and application of how the fundamental Brunswikian concept of situational information can add to the design of representative learning tasks. The findings of this thesis suggest that to design truly representative learning tasks, practitioners should sample information, action and affective constraints to create rich competition-like experiences in practice so that athletes think, feel and act like they would in competition.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/38652
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords combat sport; taekwondo; practice tasks; training; representative learning design; ecological psychology; emotions; behaviour; decision making
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