If you’ve followed our work at Emergence over the last three years, you may have noticed a pretty apparent narrative being routinely delivered (or at least I hope that you have): we center our lens, perspective, and scope of analysis on the performer-environment relationship.
Ultimately, this focus on this performer-environment relationship, to us, is what it means to adopt an ecological dynamics framework in viewing movement behavior in the world (e.g., in sport or in general).
This emphasis in my personal viewpoint (and our team at Emergence, as well) is actually part of what prompted me to write a few short blog posts earlier in 2022, where I implored fellow sport movement specialists and coaches to ask themselves some tough questions regarding their own particular view which makes up their individual Form of Life. I would encourage you to revisit those here now if you’re interested.
Back to the Basics
Is that really ecologically-driven?
Simply put, if movement practitioners are really going to adopt an ecological dynamics approach and use it to guide not only their view of movement behavior, but also their pedagogical approaches, this performer-environment relationship is an all-important one. (Note: You can replace the word ‘performer’ with ‘organism’, ‘individual’ or ‘athlete’)
Well, at the essence of this relationship lies the dynamic, problem-solving interactions which unfold as an individual makes their way through the world and the peculiar environment around them.
At the heart of these problem-solving interactions, and movement behavior which inevitably emerges, exists the mutual, reciprocal information transactions between the performer and the environment.
So, as the athlete moves in the world, the world around them also changes (and vice versa).
Or, as the performer carries out movement solutions in dynamic and continuous ways, the disposition of the problem also changes in a reciprocal fashion (sometimes dramatically, sometimes subtly).
And, of course, as the disposition of the problem changes, new opportunities for action (aka affordances) open up, being specified by these information transactions, which help link the performer and the environment in an even tighter and more intimate fashion.
Meaning, these problem-solution dynamics give rise to the intertwined perceptions, intentions, and actions which are integrated in relation to being channeled through the mutual, reciprocal transactions and exchanges of information (e.g., this is why you also hear us discuss information-movement coupling and/or perception-action coupling so much too!).
Obviously, this single blog post is not meant to be an exhaustive and definitive guide to the information transactions which take place between a performer and the environment which surrounds them. Instead, I desired for it to serve as a simple reminder to focus your attention as a sport movement specialist upon this all-important topic. However, there are still a number of things that you can do immediately to place the performer-environment relationship at the forefront of your craft.
Calls to action for sport movement practitioners:
1. Keep them coupled (as our friend Rob Gray of Perception & Action Podcast would say).
This coupling should be both when you are studying and analyzing movement behavior in sport, as well as when you attempt to facilitate more skillful, problem-solving interactions for athletes within your learning environment and practice design.
Meaning, when you watch movement behavior unfold anywhere, don’t focus on just the athlete or the athlete’s movement actions. Instead, zoom out and investigate the interactions between the solver and the unfolding problem(s). Likewise, in practice or training, aim to present alive movement problems which the athlete is actually required to solve (versus predictable, decontextualized, or isolated rehearsal of movement actions, patterns, or techniques).
Of course, back at the beginning of the year, we put together a course, Skilled Movement Analysis, where we attempted to walk practitioners through step-by-step as to how Tyler Yearby and myself embark on this type of endeavor (across six different sports) in an attempt to illustrate what it really means to see movement behavior in sport in an ecological way.
2. Go down the rabbit hole and deeply explore the topic
Fortunately, this is a topic which is near and dear to my heart and thus, is one which I have expanded upon in other places. One such place is within this blog post below, titled Information is Power, from 2020, which I would invite you to read and meditate upon.
3. Consider joining The Exchange
Wait…The Exchange…never heard of it…what is that?!
Well, The Exchange is our brand spanking new Patreon site where the team at Emergence is going to bring you frequent content for a very low price!
The Exchange was actually born out of the success of the The Movement Academy (TMA) over these last couple of years. During the various cohorts of TMA, we have realized that the more we are able to truly interact with fellow movement professionals…you know, in a mutual, reciprocal, fashion…the more we are able to meet them where they are, and package the ideas in ways which resonate directly for them to use within their crafts.
However, we also realize that not every individual across the movement community has a couple thousand dollars to drop on such an extensive experience that TMA entails, nor is every coach or movement professional at this place of commitment to these ideas within their craft, either. Yet, we didn’t want those potential roadblocks to be a deterrent in getting these really pertinent ideas in the hands of more individuals who can use them in highly influential ways with the athletes they partner with.
Thus, never fear, The Exchange is now here!
The Exchange is a monthly membership service, which offers three different levels of engagement (all with various frequency of delivery and depth of content as you will see here).
Though this type of platform for The Exchange won’t allow for the same type of frequent, highly interactive, and individualized guidance that TMA allows for and offers, we do feel as though the bang for the buck with The Exchange is second to none and we are committed to bringing a personal touch to the content we provide there. Because of that, we want to hear from members of the movement community who join The Exchange as we promise to use it in a way to discuss what YOU personally want to talk about – to answer the questions that each of YOU have and discuss the topics which are most pertinent to YOU!
To learn more about what our new Patreon site, The Exchange, will be about and offer you each month, click here now and consider joining us! We think you will be pleased that you did when it starts showing within your craft immediately!
Shawn is the Co-Director of Education & Co-Founder of Emergence. He developed content for the educational brand, Movement Mastery, from 2014 till the formation of Emergence, with the sole purpose of helping to enable a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the acquisition of more masterful movement for athletes in sport. Shawn has served primarily as a Personal Performance Advisor & Movement Skill Acquisition Coach for National Football League (NFL) players since 2008, working with approximately 12 players each year.