#OAPS101: Enhancing Performance

Introduction

(Vocaroo Summary of this post)

I have really enjoyed Week 1 of the small open online course Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport.

There have been some fascinating exchanges particularly about Seeing and Observing and Decision Making.

The numbers of participants enrolled in the course has increased this week. Shortly before the course started we had 155 and now it is 374. This means it is still a small open online course. I have discussed the approach taken in the course in a number of Clyde Street posts and in this Day 1 post on OpenLearning.

I have been keen to offer Open Badges for the course.

Conversations in the first week have prompted me to think about:

  • Feedforward
  • Performances of Understanding
  • Personal Learning Environments

 

Will Oldham’s post Analysts as Educators acted as a catalyst for my thoughts. In a post that synthesises a variety of ideas, Will concludes that:

We must take be confident enough in our skills and abilities that we are able to provide assurance to those who require it that we can add value to established coaching setups and processes, that we’re not in the business of coaching revolutions, but simply the development of athletes and coaches.

I commented on his post and suggest that the value we add is as educational technologists. I should have added that wherever possible bring an interdisciplinary understanding to performance. I think this requires a sensitivity to a narrative of performance that is customised to athletes and coaches.

My three big issues for the first week:

Feedforward

What if performance analysts decide to share the world as it might be?

I think feedfoward gives us the opportunity to do this. In Peter Dowrick’s wordssubjects see themselves not so much as they were but as they might be“.

Performances of Understanding

Last year I wrote about Sam Stosur’s victory in the US Open Tennis. In that post I noted that “I am fascinated by the process by which athletes prepare to perform. I am fascinated too by the realisation of the readiness to perform in actual performance”. My ideas about performances of understanding help me think about this readiness.

A decade ago I followed a Harvard University course online, Teaching for Understanding Using New Technologies. In that course performances of understanding were important indicators. Such performances:

… require students to go beyond the information given to create something new by reshaping, expanding, extrapolating from, applying, and building on what they already know. The best performances of understanding help students both develop demonstrate their understanding.

Personal Learning Environments

I am hopeful that many of the participants in the Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport course will write about their experiences as performance analysts or their interests in performance analysis. There is so much experience to share.

I am keen to find out about personal learning environments. My participation in the CCK08 course opened my eyes to the benefits of sharing openly. I have written about personal learning environments since that course. I see personalisation as one of the ways to offer a service to athletes and coaches.

Into Week 2

I am looking forward to Week 2 of #OAPS101. I am hopeful that this post might stimulate discussion that goes beyond the content of the course and helps address some second order questions about performance analysis.

Photo Credit

I received the photograph in this blog post from a friend. I have been unable to find a source for it. I am keen to learn whether it is a Creative Commons Licensed image.

Bandwith Approach to Supporting Learning

Yesterday’s talk by Royce Sadler at the University of Canberra has sent me off on a journey thinking about how learners flourish.

I liked Royce’s reference to texts from the last forty years. The trail for Royce’s talk had started me reflecting on Peter Dowrick’s work on feedforward and Ian Franks and Gary Miller’s (1991) paper Training Coaches to Observe and Remember.

After Royce’s talk I revisited a paper by Kristine Chambers and Joan Vickers (2006) on the Effects of Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning on the Performance of Competitive Swimmers.

The paper reported:

  • A coaching intervention involving Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning (BF-Q) on competitive swim times (cTIME), practice swim times (pTIME), and technique (TECH)
  • With a cohort of competitive youth swimmers over one short-course (25m) swim season.
  • Kristine and Joan concluded that coaching in which feedback was delayed and replaced with questions directed to the athletes contributed to improved technique and subsequent faster race times.
  • Compared to the Control group, the BF-Q group displayed greater gains in TECH during the intervention period and greater improvement in cTIME during the transfer period.

Kristine and Joan discussed two powerful issues arising from their research:

  1. It demonstrates that swimmers were aware of their ability to affect gains in personal athletic development. These results emphasize the importance of self-regulation, personal control, and active learning to efficient and heightened skill acquisition.
  2. Although swimmers described increases in mental work encouraged by their coach, the improvement in communication seemed to override any negative effects of the cognitive load. Improving coach-athlete interaction was one goal of combining questioning with bandwidth feedback. The present study supported the combined use of questioning and bandwidth feedback to enhance learning and maintain effective coach-athlete relationships.

I think this paper is an interesting empirical support for some of the points Royce made in his talk. In arguing for this resonance I am aware that I am attracted to bandwidth ideas.

Some time ago (twenty years in fact) Richard Schmidt discussed the impact frequent augmented feedback can have on learning. I liked his distinction between the performance impact of feedback and longer term learning.

Royce’s presentation, revisiting Kristine and Joan’s paper and returning to Richard’s arguments have encouraged me to work through Franz Marschall, Andreas Bund and Josef Wiemeyer’s (2007) meta-analysis of augmented feedback in the e-Journal Bewegung and Training 1. Their analysis reviews 40 papers published from 1989 to 2000.

Photo Credits

Coaches watching the fight

Coach with the wrestler’s hat

Coaches as Technologists

I am writing this post in the delightful seaside town of Grange-over-Sands at a time when I should be meeting friends and colleagues in Doha, Qatar. My flight to Doha from Manchester was cancelled yesterday due to the most natural of events, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, an Iceland volcano.

Photo Source

Part of my time in Doha was going to be spent talking with coaches about technology and I think events in Iceland are a great reminder (if we needed reminding) about how basic we can be to support learning.

My thoughts about coaches as technologists are focussed on four themes and these were to be the basis of my conversations in Doha. Coaches as:

  • Educational Technologists
  • Users of Commercial Technologies
  • Users of Free Resources
  • Technology Developers

Educational Technologists

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Coaches facilitate learning and improve performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. As such coaches (like teachers) are exemplary educational technologists. In this context coaches use “an array of tools that might prove helpful in advancing student learning” and educational technology is characterised by a broad definition of the word technology (material objects such as machines or hardware, and systems, methods of organization, and techniques).

I was going to exemplify this broad approach to educational technology with reference to, Katie Buckley, a PhD scholar in the National Institute of Sport Studies at the University of Canberra. In 2009, Katie worked with twelve football coaches (Australian Rules and Rugby Union) in four clubs. She noted that:

Coaches used their voices more than 20 dB louder than an everyday conversation. In some circumstances, this was over 40 dB louder. This louder volume occurred both indoors (meetings and indoor training) and when outside. Coaches used their voices around 20% of the time across training environments. This is comparable to other occupations that rely on their voice throughout the day (such as preschool teachers – 17%). This amount of voice use is considerably more than many other occupations, such as nursing and speech pathology (which range from 5-7%).

Katie concluded that:

This research showed that coaches are heavily reliant on their voices for success in their jobs. Despite not having considered their voices at work before, coaches were able to reflect on many aspects of their voice use. This included what impacted on their voices and what they found helpful to alleviate voice symptoms. However, they were generally unaware of why these strategies worked. They did not know how to prevent voice problems from developing. With greater knowledge about what impacts on their voices and how to use them effectively, there is good potential for coaches to improve their vocal health.

Discussions about coaches and technology almost always overlook voice and the organisation of training environments. I was hoping to draw out some of these ideas about the learning environments coaches create with a discussion of:

Users of Commercial Technologies

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Many coaches are innovators and early adopters of technologies. In the last two decades there has been an explosion of commercially available products that have interested coaches. In my Doha discussions I was going to look at:

  • Game and technical analysis
  • GPS tracking devices

These two categories exemplify the application of a particular kind of technology to sport. This SlideShare account shares some of the broader technology issues.

I think a discussion of the the paper by Randers, M. et al (2010) is an effective way to combine a discussion of game analysis and GPS tracking. The paper includes as authors Esa Peltola and my PhD colleague, Adam Hewitt. The paper concludes that “Our results show that the four systems were able to detect similar performance decrements during a football game and can be used to study game-induced fatigue. Rather large between-system differences were present in the determination of the absolute distances covered, meaning that any comparisons of results between different match analysis systems should be done with caution”.

I think this conclusion raises some great questions about automated data collection and the coach’s eye. It offers and opportunity to to explore the role augmented information plays in feedforward.

Users of Free Resources

Since late 2007 I have been exploring the possibilities of using cloud computing resources to share information openly amongst the coaching community. I was keen to develop the ideas I presented in Spotting (2009) and A Fourth Age of Sports Institutes (2009).

I am keen to explore how coaches and sport organisations with limited funds can develop a strong digital presence. As a case study I was going to present the work of my colleague, Leigh Blackall. He has the delightful role of Learning Commons Coordinator in the National Institute of Sport Studies at the University of Canberra.

Technology Developers


Just before my visit to the United Kingdom en route to Doha, I had an email from a coaching colleague in Australia. The coach had seen a paper by Ian White (2010) that described the development of “a potentially useful methodology for the capture, production, dissemination and viewing of stereoscopic video images using existing, low-cost technologies.” The coach picked up on the final sentence of the abstract to the paper “Applications in education as well as vocational and sports training are self-evident (coach’s emphasis).”

The coach’s enquiry is a great example of what Arthur Koestler called bisociation. Creativity in coaching is often made possible because  a coach joins unrelated, often conflicting, information in a new way.

Conclusion

I thought this fourth characteristic of coaching behaviour, technology developer, might be a good focus for all four characteristics of a coach mentioned in this post. I was keen to discuss in Doha how each coach develops his or her own learning environment. I do think that one of the next great developments in coaching, coach education and development will be the personalisation (individualisation) of coaching pathways and wayfinding. I imagined there to be a real workshop flavour to this part of my discussions.

I started this post with the report that a force of nature had prevented my travel to Doha. I am now using a digital technology to share in asynchronous time ideas I would have presented in synchronous time. My work is exploring how we can support each other even though we may be separated by thousands of kilometers and living in different time zones. I see this to be the digital dividend of our time and an approach that can support and develop conversations between colleagues with shared interests. I cite the example of CCK08, a connectivism course in 2008, as a guide to what can be achieved in this way.

I hope you find this post of interest wherever and whenever you read it. If Grange-over-Sands has a beach I am off to it!

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