Adopting an ecological perspective on skill performance and learning in sport


  • Keith Davids
  • Fabian
  • Martyn Rothwell



motor control, learning, skills


The sub-discipline of motor learning frames understanding of skill performance and practice in sports, relevant for developing talent and enhancing expertise of athletes (Ribeiro et al., 2021). Research in this area has important implications for the professional support work of practitioners such as coaches, trainers and sport scientists (Woods et al., 2020). Ecological dynamics is a contemporary, transdisciplinary theory of motor learning, expertise and talent development in sport, which investigates dynamic person-environment interactions as the relevant scale of analysis for understanding human performance. Influenced and shaped by key ideas in biological, physical, social and anthropological sciences, an ecological perspective conceptualises athletes and sports teams as complex adaptive systems. An ecological perspective helps sport scientists to characterize the functional relationship that emerges from the continuous interactions of the individual athlete, task and environment, which is vital for understanding skill adaptation and talent development.


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