► Exploration of variability using measures for nonlinear dynamics opens new vistas for research and treatment for movement dysfunction. ► Chaos could be a powerful component of the locomotive system and its structure can be controlled by the nervous system. ► An optimal state of variability that exhibits chaos is important for health and functional movement. ► Loss of this optimal state of variability renders the system more predictable and rigid. ► Increases beyond optimal variability render the system more noisy and unpredictable. Fields studying movement generation, including robotics, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience utilize concepts and tools related to the pervasiveness of variability in biological systems. The concept of variability and the measures for nonlinear dynamics used to evaluate this concept open new vistas for research in movement dysfunction of many types. This review describes innovations in the exploration of variability and their potential importance in understanding human movement. Far from being a source of error, evidence supports the presence of an optimal state of variability for healthy and functional movement. This variability has a particular organization and is characterized by a chaotic structure. Deviations from this state can lead to biological systems that are either overly rigid and robotic or noisy and unstable. Both situations result in systems that are less adaptable to perturbations, such as those associated with unhealthy pathological states or absence of skillfulness.
This study aimed to investigate position-specific evolution of physical and technical performance parameters in the English Premier League (EPL). Match performance observations ( = 14700) were collected using a multiple-camera computerized tracking system across seven seasons (2006–07 to 2012–13). Data were analyzed relative to five playing positions: central defenders ( = 3792), full backs ( = 3420), central midfielders ( = 3200), wide midfielders ( = 2136) and attackers ( = 2152). High-intensity running distance increased in the final season versus the first season in all playing positions ( < .05, ES: 0.9–1.3) with full backs displaying the greatest increase (∼36% higher in 2012–13). Similar trends were observed for sprint distance with full backs demonstrating the most pronounced increase across the seven seasons (36–63%, < .001, ES: 0.8–1.3). Central players (central defenders and midfielders) illustrated the most pronounced increases in total passes and pass success rate ( < .05, ES: 0.7–0.9) whilst wide players (full backs and wide midfielders) demonstrated only small-moderate increases in total passes and pass success rate ( < .05, ES: 0.6–0.8). The data demonstrates that evolving tactics in the EPL have impacted on the physical demands of wide players and the technical requirements of central players. These findings could be used for talent identification or position-specific physical and technical training.
The current study investigated the interpersonal coordination that occurred between two people when sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs. In two experiments participant pairs rocked in chairs that had the same or different natural periods. By instructing pairs to coordinate their movements inphase or antiphase, Experiment 1 investigated whether the stable patterns of intentional interpersonal coordination were consistent with the dynamics of within person interlimb coordination. By instructing the participants to rock at their own preferred tempo, Experiment 2 investigated whether the rocking chair movements of visually coupled individuals would become unintentionally coordinated. The degree to which the participants fixated on the movements of their co-actor was also manipulated to examine whether visual focus modulates the strength of interpersonal coordination. As expected, the patterns of coordination observed in both experiments demonstrated that the intentional and unintentional interpersonal coordination of rocking chair movements is constrained by the self-organizing dynamics of a coupled oscillator system. The results of the visual focus manipulations indicate that the stability of a visual interpersonal coupling is mediated by attention and the degree to which an individual is able to detect information about a co-actor’s movements.
Until recently, quantitative studies of walking have typically focused on properties of a typical or average stride, ignoring the stride-to-stride fluctuations and considering these fluctuations to be noise. Work over the past two decades has demonstrated, however, that the alleged noise actually conveys important information. The magnitude of the stride-to-stride fluctuations and their changes over time during a walk – gait dynamics – may be useful in understanding the physiology of gait, in quantifying age-related and pathologic alterations in the locomotor control system, and in augmenting objective measurement of mobility and functional status. Indeed, alterations in gait dynamics may help to determine disease severity, medication utility, and fall risk, and to objectively document improvements in response to therapeutic interventions, above and beyond what can be gleaned from measures based on the average, typical stride. This review discusses support for the idea that gait dynamics has meaning and may be useful in providing insight into the neural control of locomotion and for enhancing functional assessment of aging, chronic disease, and their impact on mobility.
The aim of this study was to compare the match performance and physical capacity of players in the top three competitive standards of English soccer. Match performance data were collected from players in the FA Premier League ( = 190), Championship ( = 155) and League 1 ( = 366) using a multiple-camera system. In addition, a selection of players from the Premier League ( = 56), Championship ( = 61) and League 1 ( = 32) performed the Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test level 2 (Yo-Yo IE2) to determine physical capacity. Players in League 1 and the Championship performed more ( < .01) high-intensity running than those in the Premier League (Effect Size [ES]: 0.4–1.0). Technical indicators such as pass completion, frequency of forward and total passes, balls received and average touches per possession were 4–39% higher ( < .01) in the Premier League compared to lower standards (ES: 0.3–0.6). Players also covered more ( < .05) high-intensity running when moving down ( = 20) from the Premier League to the Championship (ES: 0.4) but not when players moved up ( = 18) standards (ES: 0.2). Similar Yo-Yo IE2 test performances were observed in Premier League, Championship and League 1 players (ES: 0.2–0.3). Large magnitude relationships ( < .05) were observed between Yo-Yo IE2 test performances and the total and high-intensity running distance covered in both Championship ( = .56 and .64) and Premier League matches ( = .61 and .54). The data demonstrate that high-intensity running distance was greater in players at lower compared to higher competitive standards despite a similar physical capacity in a subsample of players in each standard. These findings could be associated with technical characteristics inherent to lower standards that require players to tax their physical capacity to a greater extent but additional research is still required to confirm these findings.
The aim of this study was to determine whether information obtained from measures of motor performance taken from birth to 4 years of age predicted motor and cognitive performance of children once they reached school age. Participants included 33 children aged from 6 years to 11 years and 6 months who had been assessed at ages 4 months to 4 years using the ages and stages questionnaires (ASQ: [Squires, J. K., Potter, L., & Bricker, D. (1995). . Baltimore: Brookes]). These scores were used to obtain trajectory information consisting of the age of asymptote, maximum or minimum score, and the variance of ASQ scores. At school age, both motor and cognitive ability were assessed using the McCarron Assessment of Neuromuscular Development (MAND: [McCarron, L. (1997). (revised ed.). Dallas, TX: Common Market Press.]), and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Version IV (WISC-IV: [Wechsler, D. (2004). . San Antonio, Texas: Harcourt Assessment]). In contrast to previous research, results demonstrated that, although socio-economic status (SES) predicted fine motor performance and three of four cognitive domains at school age, gestational age was not a significant predictor of later development. This may have been due to the low-risk nature of the sample. After controlling for SES, fine motor trajectory information did not account for a significant proportion of the variance in school aged fine motor performance or cognitive performance. The ASQ gross motor trajectory set of predictors accounted for a significant proportion of the variance for cognitive performance once SES was controlled for. Further analysis showed a significant predictive relationship for gross motor trajectory information and the subtests of working memory and processing speed. These results provide evidence for detecting children at risk of developmental delays or disorders with a parent report questionnaire prior to school age. The findings also add to recent investigations into the relationship between early motor development and later cognitive function, and support the need for ongoing research into a potential etiological relationship.
Complex human behavior is organized around temporally distal outcomes. Behavioral studies based on tasks such as normal prehension, multi-step object use and imitation establish the existence of relative hierarchies of motor control. The retrieval errors in apraxia also support the notion of a hierarchical model for representing action in the brain. In this review, three functional brain imaging studies of action observation using the method of repetition suppression are used to identify a putative neural architecture that supports action understanding at the level of kinematics, object centered goals and ultimately, motor outcomes. These results, based on observation, may match a similar functional-anatomic hierarchy for action planning and execution. If this is true, then the findings support a functional-anatomic model that is distributed across a set of interconnected brain areas that are differentially recruited for different aspects of goal-oriented behavior, rather than a homogeneous mirror neuron system for organizing and understanding all behavior.
Sports performance is generally considered to be governed by a range of interacting physiological, biomechanical, and psychological variables, amongst others. Despite sports performance being multi-factorial, however, the majority of performance-oriented sports science research has predominantly been monodisciplinary in nature, presumably due, at least in part, to the lack of a unifying theoretical framework required to integrate the various subdisciplines of sports science. In this target article, I propose a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) of sports performance—and, by elaboration, sports science—based around the constraints framework introduced originally by Newell (1986). A central tenet of this GUT is that, at both the intra- and inter-individual levels of analysis, patterns of coordination and control, which directly determine the performance outcome, emerge from the confluence of interacting organismic, environmental, and task constraints via the formation and self-organisation of coordinative structures. It is suggested that this GUT could be used to: foster interdisciplinary research collaborations; break down the silos that have developed in sports science and restore greater disciplinary balance to the field; promote a more holistic understanding of sports performance across all levels of analysis; increase explanatory power of applied research work; provide stronger rationale for data collection and variable selection; and direct the development of integrated performance monitoring technologies. This GUT could also provide a scientifically rigorous basis for integrating the subdisciplines of sports science in applied sports science support programmes adopted by high-performance agencies and national governing bodies for various individual and team sports.
Recently there has been much interest in social coordination of motor movements, or as it is referred to by some researchers, joint action. This paper reviews the cognitive perspective’s common coding/mirror neuron theory of joint action, describes some of its limitations and then presents the behavioral dynamics perspective as an alternative way of understanding social motor coordination. In particular, behavioral dynamics’ ability to explain the temporal coordination of interacting individuals is detailed. Two experiments are then described that demonstrate how dynamical processes of synchronization are apparent in the coordination underlying everyday joint actions such as martial art exercises, hand-clapping games, and conversations. The import of this evidence is that emergent dynamic patterns such as synchronization are the behavioral order that any neural substrate supporting joint action (e.g., mirror systems) would have to sustain.
Research has found an advantage for an external focus of attention in motor control and learning; instructing subjects to focus on the effects of their actions, rather than on body movements, can improve performance during training and retention testing. Previous research has mostly concentrated on movement outcomes, not on the quality of the movement itself. Thus, this study combined surface electromyography (EMG) with motion analysis and outcome measures in a dart throwing task, making this the first study that includes a comprehensive analysis of changes in motor performance as a function of attentional focus. An external focus of attention led to better performance (less absolute error), decreased preparation time between throws, and reduced EMG activity in the triceps brachii. There was also some evidence of increased variability for kinematic measures of the shoulder joint under an external focus relative to an internal focus. These results suggest improved movement economy with an external focus of attention.
We examine two prevailing, yet surprisingly contradictory, theories of human walking. The six determinants of gait are kinematic features of gait proposed to minimize the energetic cost of locomotion by reducing the vertical displacement of the body center of mass (COM). The inverted pendulum analogy proposes that it is beneficial for the stance leg to behave like a pendulum, prescribing a more circular arc, rather than a horizontal path, for the COM. Recent literature presents evidence against the six determinants theory, and a simple mathematical analysis shows that a flattened COM trajectory in fact increases muscle work and force requirements. A similar analysis shows that the inverted pendulum fares better, but paradoxically predicts no work or force requirements. The paradox may be resolved through the dynamic walking approach, which refers to periodic gaits produced almost entirely by the dynamics of the limbs alone. Demonstrations include passive dynamic walking machines that descend a gentle slope, and active dynamic walking robots that walk on level ground. Dynamic walking takes advantage of the inverted pendulum mechanism, but requires mechanical work to transition from one pendular stance leg to the next. We show how the step-to-step transition is an unavoidable energetic consequence of the inverted pendulum gait, and gives rise to predictions that are experimentally testable on humans and machines. The dynamic walking approach provides a new perspective, focusing on mechanical work rather than the kinematics or forces of gait. It is helpful for explaining human gait features in a constructive rather than interpretive manner.
Passing behaviour is a key property of successful performance in team sports. Previous investigations however have mainly focused on notational measurements like total passing frequencies which provide little information about what actually constitutes successful passing behaviour. Consequently, this has hampered the transfer of research findings into applied settings. Here we present two novel approaches to assess passing effectiveness in elite soccer by evaluating their effects on majority situations and space control in front of the goal. Majority situations are assessed by calculating the number of defenders between the ball carrier and the goal. Control of space is estimated using Voronoi-diagrams based on the player's positions on the pitch. Both methods were applied to position data from 103 German First division games from the 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 seasons using a big data approach. The results show that both measures are significantly related to successful game play with respect to the number of goals scored and to the probability of winning a game. The results further show that on average passes from the mid-field into the attacking area are most effective. The presented passing efficiency measures thereby offer new opportunities for future applications in soccer and other sports disciplines whilst maintaining practical relevance with respect to tactical training regimes or game performances analysis.
Passing behaviour is a key property of successful performance in team sports. Previous investigations however have mainly focused on notational measurements like total passing frequencies which provide little information about what actually constitutes successful passing behaviour. Consequently, this has hampered the transfer of research findings into applied settings. Here we present two novel approaches to assess passing effectiveness in elite soccer by evaluating their effects on majority situations and space control in front of the goal. Majority situations are assessed by calculating the number of defenders between the ball carrier and the goal. Control of space is estimated using Voronoi-diagrams based on the player’s positions on the pitch. Both methods were applied to position data from 103 German First division games from the 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 seasons using a big data approach. The results show that both measures are significantly related to successful game play with respect to the number of goals scored and to the probability of winning a game. The results further show that on average passes from the mid-field into the attacking area are most effective. The presented passing efficiency measures thereby offer new opportunities for future applications in soccer and other sports disciplines whilst maintaining practical relevance with respect to tactical training regimes or game performances analysis.
Despite much research on balance training, it is still unclear whether balance training leads to highly task-specific adaptations or rather non-specific adaptations. Hence, in this study we examined whether balance training increased performance only in the balance task that was trained or also in non-trained tasks. Forty healthy participants (28 m 12 f, 25 ± 4 years, 177 ± 10 cm, 73 ± 14 kg) were assigned to one of two training groups (TGs) or a control group. Both TGs completed six sessions over 2 weeks, only the training device differed. Before and after the training, performance in the trained task as well as in additional untrained tasks was recorded. ANOVAs showed that each TG outperformed the other groups only in the task they had trained (e.g., task trained by TG1: +225% in TG1, only +41% and +30% in TG2 and control, group * time interaction, < 0.001; Untrained task 1: TG1 +48%, TG2 +48%, and control +30%, no significant interaction, = 0.72). In summary, 2 weeks of balance training resulted in highly task-specific effects, no transfer even to very similar tasks was observed. Therefore, we recommend identifying and training exactly those tasks that need improvement, and test the efficacy of training programs using specific tests instead of general tests with limited functional relevance.
An external focus of attention has been shown to result in superior motor performance compared to an internal focus of attention. This study investigated whether this is due to enhanced levels of movement automatization, as predicted by the constrained action hypothesis ( ). Thirty healthy participants performed a cyclic one-leg extension-flexion task with both the dominant and non-dominant leg. Focus of attention was manipulated via instructions. The degree of automatization of movement was assessed by measuring dual task costs as well as movement execution parameters (i.e., EMG activity, movement fluency, and movement regularity). Results revealed that an external focus of attention led to significantly better motor performance (i.e., shorter movement duration) than an internal focus. Although dual task costs of the motor task did not differ as a function of attentional focus, cognitive dual task costs were significantly higher when attention was directed internally. An external focus of attention resulted in more fluent and more regular movement execution than an internal focus, whereas no differences were found concerning muscular activity. These results indicate that an external focus of attention results in more automatized movements than an internal focus and, therefore, provide support for the constrained action hypothesis.
There has been growing evidence showing gait variability provides unique information about gait characteristics in neurological disorders. This study systemically reviewed and quantitatively synthesized (via meta-analysis) existing evidence on gait variability in various neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cerebellar ataxia (CA), Huntington’s disease (HD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Keyword search were conducted in PubMed, Web of science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Cochrane Library. Meta-analysis was performed to estimate the pooled effect size for gait variability for each neurological group. Meta-regression was performed to compare gait variability across multiple groups with neurological diseases. Gait variability of 777 patients with AD, ALS, CA, HD, MS, or PD participating in 25 studies was included in meta-analysis. All pathological groups had increased amount of gait variability and loss of fractal structure of gait dynamics compared to healthy controls, and gait variability differentiated distinctive neurological conditions. The HD groups had the highest alterations in gait variability among all pathological groups, whereas the PD, AD and MS groups had the lowest. Interventions that aim to improve gait function in patients with neurological disorders should consider the heterogeneous relationship between gait variability and neurological conditions.
The present study examined the extent to which game format (possession play, SSG-P and game with regular goals and goalkeepers, SSG-G) and the number of players (5, 7 and 10 a-side) influence the physical demands of small-sided soccer games (SSGs) in elite soccer players. Training data were collected during the in-season period from 26 English Premier League outfield players using global positioning system technology. Total distance covered, distance at different speed categories and maximal speed were calculated. In addition, we focused on changes in velocity by reporting the number of accelerations and decelerations carried out during the SSGs (divided in two categories: moderate and high) and the absolute maximal values of acceleration and deceleration achieved. By taking into account these parameters besides speed and distance values, estimated energy expenditure and average metabolic power and distance covered at different metabolic power categories were calculated. All variables were normalized by time (i.e., 4 min). The main findings were that the total distance, distances run at high speed (>14.4 km h ) as well as absolute maximum velocity, maximum acceleration and maximum deceleration increased with pitch size (10v10 > 7v7 > 5v5; 25.2 km h ) speed distances, absolute maximal velocity and maximum acceleration and deceleration were higher in SSG-G than in SSG-P ( 7v7 > 10v10; < .001) in both SSG-G and SSG-P. In addition, predicted energy cost, average metabolic power and distance covered at every metabolic power categories were higher in SSG-P compared to SSG-G and in big than in small pitch areas ( < .05). A detailed analysis of these drills is pivotal in contemporary football as it enables an in depth understanding of the workload imposed on each player which consequently has practical implications for the prescription of the adequate type and amount of stimulus during exercise training.
The aim of this investigation was to compare the effects of common rule changes on technical and physical demands for elite soccer players in five playing positions during various 4-min small-sided games (SSGs) in comparison to 11-a-side matches. Forty international players classified into five positional roles participated in the study (25.3 ± 2.4 years, 182.4 ± 2.3 cm, 77.3 ± 4.1 kg; M ± SD). Players completed three different conditioned small-sided 4 vs. 4 games (1 ball touch = 1T, 2 ball touches = 2T and Free Play = FP) as well as two friendly matches. Heart rate (HR), blood lactate ([La]), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) as well as physical and technical performance were analyzed. Compared to match-play, total distance covered per minute of play, high-intensity running activities (sprinting and high-intensity runs), total numbers of duels and lost ball possessions were significantly greater within SSGs for all playing positions ( < .05). In contrast, [La], percentage of successful passes and number of ball possessions were lower ( < .05) within SSGs, particularly with 1T and 2T rules, in comparison with match-play. HR was higher in SSGs compared to match-play for all playing positions, and RPE values were lower ( < .05) during the FP SSG for defensive midfielders, wide midfielders and forwards. In conclusion, this study revealed that 4 vs. 4 SSGs played with 1 or 2 ball touches increased the high-intensity running and the difficulty to perform technical actions, being more specific to match demands. Subsequently, it is of importance for coaches to understand the different physiological demands imposed upon players by varying the rules of SSGs and to understand the differences between positional roles.
The aim of this study was to examine differences in the performance of children with probable Developmental Coordination Disorder (p-DCD) and balance problems (BP) and typical developing children (TD) on a Wii Fit task and to measure the effect on balance skills after a Wii Fit intervention. Twenty-eight children with BP and 20 TD-children participated in the study. Motor performance was assessed with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC2), three subtests of the Bruininks Oseretsky Test (BOT2): Bilateral Coordination, Balance and Running Speed & Agility, and a Wii Fit ski slalom test. The TD children and half of the children in the BP group were tested before and after a 6 weeks non-intervention period. All children with BP received 6 weeks of Wii Fit intervention (with games other than the ski game) and were tested before and afterwards. Children with BP were less proficient than TD children in playing the Wii Fit ski slalom game. Training with the Wii Fit improved their motor performance. The improvement was significantly larger after intervention than after a period of non-intervention. Therefore the change cannot solely be attributed to spontaneous development or test–retest effect. Nearly all children enjoyed participation during the 6 weeks of intervention. Our study shows that Wii Fit intervention is effective and is potentially a method to support treatment of (dynamic) balance control problems in children.