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The Role of Hypernetworks as a Multilevel Methodology for Modelling and Understanding Dynamics of Team Sports Performance


Despite its importance in many academic fields, traditional scientific methodologies struggle to cope with analysis of interactions in many complex adaptive systems, including team sports. Inherent features of such systems (e.g. emergent behaviours) require a more holistic approach to measurement and analysis for understanding system properties. Complexity sciences encompass a holistic approach to research on collective adaptive systems, which integrates concepts and tools from other theories and methods (e.g. ecological dynamics and social network analysis) to explain functioning of such systems in their natural environments. Multilevel networks and hypernetworks comprise novel and potent methodological tools for assessing team dynamics at more sophisticated levels of analysis, increasing their potential to impact on competitive performance in team sports. Here, we discuss how concepts and tools derived from studies of multilevel networks and hypernetworks have the potential for revealing key properties of sports teams as complex, adaptive social systems. This type of analysis can provide valuable information on team performance, which can be used by coaches, sport scientists and performance analysts for enhancing practice and training. We examine the relevance of network sciences, as a sub-discipline of complexity sciences, for studying the dynamics of relational structures of sports teams during practice and competition. Specifically, we explore the benefits of implementing multilevel networks, in contrast to traditional network techniques, highlighting future research possibilities. We conclude by recommending methods for enhancing the applicability of hypernetworks in analysing team dynamics at multiple levels.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to João Ribeiro.

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Duarte Araújo was partially funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, under Grant UID/DTP/UI447/2013 to CIPER–Centro Interdisciplinar para o Estudo da Performance Humana (unit 447). Rui Lopes was partially funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia and Instituto de Telecomunicações, under Grant UID/EEA/50008/2019. No other sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

João Ribeiro, Keith Davids, Duarte Araújo, Pedro Silva, João Ramos, Rui Lopes and Júlio Garganta declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.

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Ribeiro, J., Davids, K., Araújo, D. et al. The Role of Hypernetworks as a Multilevel Methodology for Modelling and Understanding Dynamics of Team Sports Performance. Sports Med 49, 1337–1344 (2019).

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