Immersed in Momentum

I have had opportunities to meet up with some coaches during my trip to England. Some of our conversations have involved questions about ‘momentum’.

One of them asked if I could write up some notes that he could use. I have set up a Google Doc to do this and drafted a short summary for him. It is a partial bibliography.

I did not go back to primary sources such as Ivan PavlovEdward Thorndike, and Burrhus Frederic Skinner. My search started in the 1970s with Tony Nevin and extended to Walid Briki and Keith Markman’s (2018) paper on the phenomenology of goal pursuit.

The review gave me the opportunity to reflect on coaching applications of psychological momentum and behavioural momentum ideas notwithstanding the existential dilemma about whether ‘momentum’ exists or whether it can be defined.

A number of sport specific papers helped me focus my attention for my coaching friends:

Peter Adler and Patricia Adler (1978), The role of momentum in sport

Seppo Iso-Ahola and Ken Mobily (1980), Psychological momentum: A phenomenon and an empirical (unobtrusive) validation of its influence in a competitive sport tournament

Charles Mace, Joseph Lalli, Michael Shea, and John Nevin (1992), Behavioral momentum in college basketball

Jim Taylor and Andrew Demick (1994), A multidimensional model of momentum in sports

Judith Smith (2000), Psychological momentum in elite athletes

Alistair Higham, Chris Harwood, and Andrew Cale (2005), Momentum in soccer: Controlling the game

Lee Crust and Mark Nesti (2006), A review of psychological momentum in sports: Why qualitative research is needed

Martin Jones and Chris Harwood (2008), Psychological momentum within competitive soccer: Players’ perspectives

Joseph Wanzek, Daniel Houlihan, and Kendra Homan (2012), An Examination of Behavioral Momentum in Girl’s High School Volleyball

Walid Briki et al. (2012), A qualitative exploration of the psychological contents and dynamics of momentum in sport.

Philip Mortimer and Edward Burt (2014), Does momentum exist in elite handball?

Carsten Larsen and Kristoffer Henriksen (2015), Psychological momentum in team sport: An intervention program in professional soccer

Rafael Barragán (2015), Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the critical moments in basketball

Seppo Iso-Ahola and Charles Dotson (2017), Momentum and elite performance

Walid Briki (2017), Rethinking the relationship between momentum and sport performance: toward an integrative perspective

There are numerous other papers with a sport specific focus. I will need to return to some of these but have become acquainted with them through the meta-analysis in the papers listed here.

I did pursue the psychology literature too and was delighted to learn more about: momentum as a metaphor; discriminated operants; resistance; behavioural dynamics; reinforcement; compliance; naive beliefs; triggers; amplification; perception; and incentives.

I was keen to find papers my coaching colleagues could read and I decided I would recommend Philip Mortimer and Edward Burt’s (2014), Does momentum exist in elite handball? and Carsten Larsen and Kristoffer Henriksen’s (2015), Psychological momentum in team sport: An intervention program in professional soccer.

Philip and Edward share some excellent visualisations of momentum shifts in game state (that reminded me of other conversations with coaches about T-patterns). Carsten and Kristoffer shared an example of working with young football players “to increase the players’ awareness of triggers, of cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes associated with PM, and of how players may control perceptions of PM during training and in matches”. I thought this example from Denmark resonated with work shared by Alistair Higham, Chris Harwood, and Andrew Cale (2005), Lee Crust and Mark Nesti (2006), and Martin Jones and Chris Harwood (2008). I felt very comfortable with the qualitative tenor of this work and thought coaches would be very comfortable in 1:1 conversations with players.

Amidst all this reading and reflection, I was delighted to find Walid Briki and Keith Markman’s (2018) discussion of prospection and the situation of pre-experience in training environments and simulations. This speaks to my fascination with [simple_tooltip content=’Peter Dowrick’]feedforward[/simple_tooltip] and my growing interest in consequences in training contexts. It gave me a new reference: Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson (2007) and their exploration of the mechanisms of prospection:

Mental simulation is the means by which the brain discovers what it already knows. When faced with decisions about future events, the cortex generates simulations, briefly tricking subcortical systems into believing that those events are unfolding in the present and then taking note of the feelings these systems produce.

Which seems to me to be the start of a whole lot of new conversations about learning design and guided discovery with coaches.

Photo Credits

[simple_tooltip content=’Chosen from the free photos on Unsplash’]Photo[/simple_tooltip] of person throwing white fish net on body of water by David Clode on  Unsplash
Rugby photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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