Sports Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Key Properties of Expert Movement Systems in Sport

An Ecological Dynamics Perspective
  • Ludovic SeifertEmail author
  • Chris Button
  • Keith Davids
Review Article


This paper identifies key properties of expertise in sport predicated on the performer-environment relationship. Weaknesses of traditional approaches to expert performance, which uniquely focus on the performer and the environment separately, are highlighted by an ecological dynamics perspective. Key properties of expert movement systems include ‘multi- and meta-stability’, ‘adaptive variability’, ‘redundancy’, ‘degeneracy’ and the ‘attunement to affordances’. Empirical research on these expert system properties indicates that skill acquisition does not emerge from the internal representation of declarative and procedural knowledge, or the imitation of expert behaviours to linearly reduce a perceived ‘gap’ separating movements of beginners and a putative expert model. Rather, expert performance corresponds with the ongoing co-adaptation of an individual’s behaviours to dynamically changing, interacting constraints, individually perceived and encountered. The functional role of adaptive movement variability is essential to expert performance in many different sports (involving individuals and teams; ball games and outdoor activities; land and aquatic environments). These key properties signify that, in sport performance, although basic movement patterns need to be acquired by developing athletes, there exists no ideal movement template towards which all learners should aspire, since relatively unique functional movement solutions emerge from the interaction of key constraints.


Coordination Pattern Sport Performance Deliberate Practice Task Constraint Expert Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors have no conflicts of interest for this project that are directly relevant to the content of this review. The authors received funding from the CPER/GRR1880 Logistic Transport and Information Treatment 2007-2013. All authors have substantially contributed to the submitted study and all have read and approved the final manuscript.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Etude des Transformations des Activités Physiques et Sportives (CETAPS)-EA 3832, Faculty of Sport SciencesUniversity of RouenMont Saint AignanFrance
  2. 2.School of Physical EducationUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Human Movement StudiesQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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