My name is Keith Lyons. I am a Professor of Sport Studies at the University of Canberra.

I think of myself as an educational technologist.

Clyde Street

Entangled, Following, Leading



I had the opportunity to visit Long Beach on Thursday. It is an hour’s drive from my home in Braidwood, New South Wales.

Long Beach is normally deserted when we get there. We have a choice of wherever we would like to be. There are no surf lifesaving flags. There is no surf patrol there. Everyone who visits the beach understands that they have a personal responsibility for their own and others’ safety. It is a shallow, family friendly beach with no dangerous rip currents.

We were one of two families on the beach. Both of us were inducting young children into the delights of swimming.

I thought the day provided a great metaphor for some of the issues I have been thinking about of late prompted by discussions I have been having with Jo Gibson about #leadershipfollowership.

Jo is looking at the entanglement of leadership and followership in nursing contexts. Her insights have helped me think more carefully about:

  • Player-led environments in high performance sport
  • Flipped learning opportunities in an open and non-linear online course #UCSIA15.

These have led me inexorably to think in more detail about pedagogy and power.

All these thoughts have coincided with two conversations with world-leading coaches. Both are finding it difficult to work with their national sporting organisations. These organisations are uncomfortable with the coaching approaches of both coaches. They are expecting a much more authoritarian approach to coaching as hierarchical telling rather than a democratic acceptance of entangled opportunities to lead and follow.

If both organisations were in charge of Long Beach there would be a very narrow bandwidth of acceptable beach behaviour. Families would not explore the beach, they would avoid it. Freedom to be different becomes constraint.

This video about the Bodleian Library encouraged me to think about how we can transform an institution

An Open University publication, Innovating Pedagogy (2014) has helped me extend these thoughts. The report published in November looks at:

  • Open social learning
  • Learning supported by analytics
  • Flipped classrooms
  • Bring your own devices
  • Learning to learn
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Event-based learning
  • Learning through storytelling
  • Threshold concepts
  • Bricolage

All of these point to the self-monitoring and self-management that occurs at Long Beach and with the generations of children who have learned to play and swim there. It is a place of considered autonomy.


In addition to Jo’s prompting, my thoughts at Long Beach were catalysed by a line from an article in the Atlantic earlier this year (April). Derek Thompson discusses The Saviour Fallacy in basketball. In it he mentions Kevin Pritchard‘s “treadmill of mediocrity”. The treadmill captures

the widespread feeling that average teams are doomed to walk in place for eternity with no hope of advancement: they lack the talent to contend, yet never get the acclaimed top-of-the-draft picks that could meaningfully improve their rosters.

My hope is that a move to the entanglement of leadership and followership addresses this sense of eternal doom. It is a very fallible move as we learn how to transition to a shared learning space.

I find it profoundly disappointing that two coaches on this journey are having difficulties in their organisations. Their valuing of process over outcome ironically has led to some of both sports best ever results.

Quite a day at the beach!


@tonynaar at #IASI14 and #AUSPIN14



The Australian Institute of Sport hosted Day 2 of the annual meetings of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) and the Australasian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN).

One of the final presentations of the day was by Tony Naar.

Tony has the delightful title of General Manager Knowledge Services at the Australian Paralympic Committee.

Tony provided a case study of the Australian Paralympic Committee’s partnership with the NSIC Clearinghouse for Sport.

Whenever I hear Tony speak I am struck by his inspirational views on knowledge gathering and sharing.

His work is a benchmark standard for information services in national (and global) sporting organisations.

A great way to end two days of discussions about collaborative activity in Sport Information Services.


First morning session Day 2 #IASI14 and #AUSPIN14



The Australian Institute of Sport is hosting Day 2 of the annual meetings of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) and the Australasian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN).

There were three presentations in the first morning session:



Li discussed the development of a scientific document service for elite Chinese sport from 2010 to the present. She described an E-learning platform that was precise and easily accessible. She noted that the Chinese Sport Information Service works with sport universities to collect, edit, index, submit, store and release information for ten sports.

Six universities in the network specialise in the monitoring of a single sport. The Information Service focusses specifically on three sports: swimming, gymnastics and athletics. In all cases, subject experts verify literature. There is a strong emphasis on quality assurance.

The Information Service released 4501 items of information in 2013-2014. (There were 2800 in 2011-2012).

Li concluded her presentation with an emphasis of importance of networks and proposed international collaboration to the sharing of scientific information.



Hartmut’s presentation had two components:

  • A discussion of the SPIKE project (a pilot database for high performance training centers and camps).
  • Other work at the Institut für Angewandte Trainingswissenschaft in Leipzig.


Hartmut noted that there are 96 members of the Association of Sport Performance Centres. The SPIKE project has developed a user friendly database of Centres. Within the pilot project, coaches were asked to share their search needs.

Other Projects

Hartmut observed that SPIKE was a very small part of the Institut’s work. Other work includes:

SPONET.de has 40,000 documents in its archive including a document scanning project.

an individualised information service SPRINT with 2,000 subscribers.

an individualised communication network SPRINT 1:1

an upload service SPEED

aniIndividualised documentation service

an iInformation service for 27 National Governing Bodies

The Institut is keen to “Always attempt the impossible” and to contribute to a better informed elite sport system.



I have been following Chikara’s work on his SMART system since 2002. I was delighted to see the emergence of his Smart 2.0 today.

SMART 1.0 and SMART 2.0 are versions of the Japanese Institute of Sport Science’s (JISS) video database (a streaming and meta-data platform).

The SMART 2.0 project started 2009. At present there are 4000 users of the video database. Individual access to the database is verified through National Governing Bodies. All 270,000 videos in the database are archived at JISS.

Chikara noted the limitations of SMART 1.0

  • Low quality video image
  • No step by step video option
  • No sophisticated slow motion
  • No multi-camera option
  • No synchronisation with data

These have been remedied in SMART 2.0:

  • A new SMART player
  • Multiple camera perspectives

SMART 2.0 uses a serialising method to seek video segments and nonlinear thumbnails. The system enables precise time characteristics of the thumbnail (using sparse and fine time intervals).

Chikara presented a synchronised page and video option in SMART 2.0. This page uses scalable vector graphics and HTML to optimise the interactive potential of the page.

Each frame of the video stored in SMART 2.0 has its own unique url to get thumbnails and facilitate step-by-step viewing.

All users of SMART 2.0 have access to network videos flexibly as if they are local files.

Chikara concluded his talk with a discussion of his SMART camera project. The project is driven by the desire to develop a simple camera to record; a simple player to see; and a simple server to save.

The specifications of the camera include: 240 frames per second; High Definition; pre-triggered video; and with a SMART video server.

A 2014 prototype includes a USB3 camera (with 160 frames per seconds), and a PC box.

A busy day ahead at #IASI14 and #AUSPIN14 in Canberra




The Australian Institute of Sport is hosting Day 2 of the annual meetings of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) and the Australasian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN).

There are four sessions today:







I think the day will be a great opportunity to share experiences in different cultural contexts. I am looking forward to learning more about how we can connect … openly.

Photo Credit

Canberra Avenue (ArchivesACT, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Touch in Sports Coaching and Physical Education



I have received and advance copy of the book edited by Heather Piper, Touch in Sports Coaching and Physical Education: Fear, Risk and Moral Panic.

There are eleven chapters in the book. As a collection of readings:

This is the first international collection which addresses how the imperative of protecting children and young people from abuse has impacted on sports coaching and physical education.

I have a chapter in the book (Chapter 9, pp.135-150): She’ll be right? An Australian perspective on caring for young people in physical education and sport.

My opening paragraph is:

This chapter explores issues surrounding practice, pedagogy, and policy relating to touch in physical education teaching and sport coaching in Australia. It is a contribution to the open discussion of touch inspired by the work of Heather Piper and her colleagues in general and the publication of a special edition of the journal Sport, Education and Society (Piper et al. 2013a) in particular. It reflects the view that discussion about touch must acknowledge contextual complexity and nuance, at a time when ‘common sense is itself a problematic and disputed idea’ (Piper et al. 2013b; p. 578). Given Australia’s cultural diversity, it is important that any discussion of touch in teaching and coaching is sensitive to this reality (Santoro et al. 2011).

My hope in writing the chapter was that I might contribute to the discussion of ‘relational touch’. It is an optimistic account of practice and pedagogy empowered through clear policy.

Photo Credit

Teaching (Nathan Russell, CC BY 2.0)

IASI 2014 Canberra: Trusted Aggregation and Sharing



Day 2 of the annual meeting of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) in Canberra includes a number of discussions of trusted networks for sharing information.

I attended my last IASI meeting in Leipzig in 2011.

After that meeting I thought I would start my own aggregator for sport information. I chose Scoop.it as my platform for this activity. I thought liaising was a good title as it indcated working together and has IASI in the title.


I have focussed on high performance issues from New Zealand, Australia, Qatar, the United Kingdom and Canada. I update my lIAISing site on Scoop.it after reading the thirty stories or so I receive each day. Any Scoops have a default post to my Twitter account too.

It is interesting to contemplate how personal aggregation might fit into IASI’s trusted networks of sharing conversations on Day 2.

Photo Credit

AIS Sculpture (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

IASI in Canberra 2014



This week, the Australian Institute of Sport is hosting the annual meetings of the International Association for Sports Information (IASI) and the Australasian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN).

There are two days of meetings.

Day 1 (10 November) includes:

  • A welcome from Simon Hollingsworth, Australian Sports Commission.
  • Welcome addresses by Gavin Reynolds and Hartmut Sandner
  • A discussion of high performance projects including: an Athlete Injury Prevention Database; an athlete welfare portal; and a review of Australian sports performance.
  • Discussions of digital sport initiatives including: a sport passport; an open sport data initiative; apps and the sport professional.
  • The IASI General Meeting
  • Discussions of participatory and capability development projects including: volunteer market segmentation; sporting schools; and the national participation survey.


Day 2 (11 November) includes:

  • An opportunity to share and evaluate data: a scientific documentation service for China; a database for high performance training centres and camps; video sharing.
  • An international sport system intelligence roundtable: a benchmark study of national sport information systems; a trusted network to share policy and system information.
  • Performance tracking and monitoring: examples of tracking and monitoring; data driven investment models.
  • An open session: clearinghouse activity; Tokyo 2020.

Photo Credit

AIS Swim Hall, Bruce ACT (ArchivesACT, CC BY-NC 2.0)

AIS (Marg O’Connell, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)




I have read with great sadness of the death of Jackie Fairweather.

I met Jackie when I moved to Australia in 2002. She was the head coach of the AIS Triathlon program at the time.

She helped me understand the spirit of Australian elite sport and was very clear about how I might support her as a coach. She was a very important part of my induction into the AIS. We continued our conversations for the next five years.

News of her death comes in a week when I have been thinking about Gary Speed after a visit to Dragon Park in Newport. It comes thirty-two years after the death of my brother, John.

All three of them remarkable … and profoundly missed. Each of them leaving family and friends wondering how it might have been different.

Vale Jackie.

Photo Credit

Jackie (Geoff McLachlan, Gold Coast Bulletin)




A Space for Place in Sport?



I have had the opportunity to visit a number of new sport training facilities on my month-long visit to England and Wales.

All of my visits have taken me back to Thomas Gieryn’s (2000) paper, A Space for Place in Sociology. In the paper he proposes that place has three “necessary and sufficient features”:

  • Location: A place is a unique spot in the universe … the distinction between here and there.
  • Material Form: Place has physicality … place is stuff. It is a compilation of things or objects at some particular spot in the universe.
  • Meaningfulness: Without naming, identification, or representation by ordinary people, a place is not a place. Places are doubly constructed: most are built or in some way physically carved out. They are also interpreted, narrated, perceived, felt understood, and imagined.

Thomas suggests:

Places are endlessly made, not just when the powerful pursue their ambition through brick and mortar, not just when design professional give form to function, but also when ordinary people extract from continuous and abstract space a bounded, identified, meaningful, named and significant place.


I think England Rugby’s Pennyhill Park has this potential for ‘ordinary people’ as does Welsh Football’s Dragon Park in Newport. These are on a different scale to the Football Association’s St George’s Park.

Cardiff Met has made enormous strides in connecting location, material form and meaningfulness in its Cyncoed places. I am very impressed by the induction of students as performance analysts in these places.




As more of these places are developed we will need to discuss their meaningfulness as learning environments.

We will need to find a space for critical discourse about place.

Photo Credits

St George’s Park Reception (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Pennyhill Park (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Cardiff Met (Darrell Cobner)

Extending the discussion of With



I was delighted that a number of people I admire picked up on my tweet about moving from for to with as a performance analyst.

This is a follow up post to encourage the sharing of experience about with activities.

I wondered if these three images depict our community of practice. I think they apply to coaching journeys too.

Step 1: The Heroic Journey


When we start out as performance analysts we face a significant work flow. Hopefully we are able to deal with this challenge. This is the foundation of for activities. We keep climbing without support. We all do it.

Step 2: Facing the Same Challenges but Working Independently


If we do manage to deal with the volume of work and have an opportunity to raise our heads to look around, we discover that others are doing the same for kind of for work. The growing network of performance analysts means that we are more aware than ever before of other responses to the same situations. We still act independently but our practice is enhanced by our own and others’ experience.

We are confident in our ability and we are able to deal with a diversity of challenges.

Step 3: In it Together


This is a very powerful image for me. It symbolises the moment we synthesise for into with in our practice. A critical incident has transformed the relationship between driver, cyclist and his colleagues.

One option could be for the cyclist to extricate the bike and carry on regardless. The other option is to address the issue head on and speak with the driver. Felix Sellier, the cyclist in this picture, decided to speak with the driver. His colleagues do not try to squeeze past, they are in this together. There is even a cyclist with a sling as part of the action.

The conversation with the driver has the potential to change everything if the driver acknowledges he or she has some responsibility and accountability for a shared journey.

Some of us, perhaps many of us, have experienced this third step. If we have been fortunate it did not take a crash to share a journey.

Step 3 relationships are very special. They are characterised by entangled leadership with shared responsibilities … and profound trust.

Photo Credits

Every body has a share (aphotoshooter, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Pierre Gallien in the French Alps (Nationaal Archief, No known copyright restrictions)

Cyclists climbing over closed railway crossing (Nationaal Archief, No known copyright restrictions)

Hit by a car (Nationaal Archief, No known copyright restrictions)



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