Journal of Systems Science and Complexity

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 4–13 | Cite as

Overview of complex systems in sport

  • Natàlia BalagueEmail author
  • Carlota Torrents
  • Robert Hristovski
  • Keith Davids
  • Duarte Araújo


The complex systems approach offers an opportunity to replace the extant pre-dominant mechanistic view on sport-related phenomena. The emphasis on the environment-system relationship, the applications of complexity principles, and the use of nonlinear dynamics mathematical tools propose a deep change in sport science. Coordination dynamics, ecological dynamics, and network approaches have been successfully applied to the study of different sport-related behaviors, from movement patterns that emerge at different scales constrained by specific sport contexts to game dynamics. Sport benefit from the use of such approaches in the understanding of technical, tactical, or physical conditioning aspects which change their meaning and dilute their frontiers. The creation of new learning and training strategies for teams and individual athletes is a main practical consequence. Some challenges for the future are investigating the influence of key control parameters in the nonlinear behavior of athlete-environment systems and the possible relatedness of the dynamics and constraints acting at different spatio-temporal scales in team sports. Modelling sport-related phenomena can make useful contributions to a better understanding of complex systems and vice-versa.

Key words

Constraints-led approach coordination dynamics performer-environment system selforganization team dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Systems Science, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natàlia Balague
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlota Torrents
    • 2
  • Robert Hristovski
    • 3
  • Keith Davids
    • 4
  • Duarte Araújo
    • 5
  1. 1.INEFCUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.INEFCUniversity of LleidaLleidaSpain
  3. 3.Ss. Cyril and Methodius UniversitySkopjeRepublic of Macedonia
  4. 4.School of Human Movement StudiesQueensland University of TechnologiesBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Faculty of Human KineticsTechnical University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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