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On analysing and interpreting variability in motor output



A recent article in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport by Chapman et al.1 reported data from an empirical investigation comparing lower extremity joint motions, joint coordination and muscle recruitment in expert and novice cyclists. 3D kinematic and intramuscular electromyographic (EMG) analyses revealed no differences between expert and novice cyclists for normalised joint angles and velocities of the pelvis, hip, knee and ankle. However, significant differences in the strength of sagittal plane kinematics for hip–ankle and knee–ankle joint couplings were reported, with expert cyclists displaying tighter coupling relationships than novice cyclists. Furthermore, significant differences between expert and novice cyclists for all muscle recruitment parameters, except timing of peak EMG amplitude, were also reported.
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Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 12 (2009) e2–e3
Letter to the Editor
On analysing and interpreting variability in motor output
A recent article in the Journal of Science and Medicine
in Sport by Chapman et al.1reported data from an empirical
investigation comparing lower extremity joint motions, joint
coordination and muscle recruitment in expert and novice
cyclists. 3D kinematic and intramuscular electromyographic
(EMG) analyses revealed no differences between expert and
novice cyclists for normalised joint angles and velocities of
the pelvis, hip, knee and ankle. However, significant dif-
ferences in the strength of sagittal plane kinematics for
hip–ankle and knee–ankle joint couplings were reported, with
expert cyclists displaying tighter coupling relationships than
novice cyclists. Furthermore, significant differences between
expert and novice cyclists for all muscle recruitment param-
eters, except timing of peak EMG amplitude, were also
Perhaps the most theoretically interesting finding to
emerge from this study was that novice cyclists exhibited
significantly greater variability in hip–ankle and knee–ankle
joint couplings than expert cyclists. From an information pro-
cessing theoretical perspective, it could be argued that these
results, taken at face value, support the proposition that motor
learning is characterised by progression towards invariance
in motor output2and that movement variability might be a
negative by-product of noise in the central nervous system
that should be minimised or eliminated.3–5 However, from
a dynamical systems theoretical perspective, observed vari-
ability in motor output in both novice and expert cyclists
may not necessarily be a reflection of system noise. As
motor learning from a dynamical systems theoretical perspec-
tive is considered to be the search for stable and functional
states of coordination,6it is possible that the greater variabil-
ity displayed by novice cyclists in the relative motion plots
of Fig. 1(b) of Chapman et al.1may represent exploratory
behaviour as the system attempts to discover stable regions
of the ‘perceptual-motor workspace’ or attractor states7that
subserve the production of functional, possibly optimal, coor-
dination solutions. The much narrower bandwidth of motor
variability exhibited by the expert cyclists could also be con-
sidered functional as it may represent subtle adaptations to
continuously fluctuating constraints on action, or ‘control-
lable chaos’ as Kelso and Ding8described it.
There are a number of theoretical and methodological
issues that need to be considered when attempting to estab-
lish the functionality and role of movement variability in
motor control and learning. First, operational analyses, such
as the one conducted by Chapman et al.,1need to be under-
pinned by a scientifically rigorous theoretical rationale that
should form the basis for hypothesis testing and experi-
mentation. Second, the theoretical framework adopted must
also have the scope to consider alternative interpretations
of motor variability, rather than making the default assump-
tion that it is an artefact of noise in the system.9Third, the
inverse relationship between movement variability and skill
level is not universally supported in the literature with some
studies actually showing reduced variability in less skilled
performers compared to their more highly skilled counter-
parts [e.g., 10,11]. Similarly, the clinical literature has shown
that patients exhibiting injury or disease, in some cases,
exhibit less variability than healthy controls12,13 although
there can be an increase or decrease of variability depending
on the intrinsic dynamics of the system and the constraints
on action.14,15 Finally, the recent introduction of non-linear
measurement tools16 in empirical studies have revealed that
it is the structure, rather than the magnitude, of movement
variability that appears to be of greater significance in under-
standing normal and pathological human perceptual-motor
To summarise, it is proposed that observations of motor
variability require careful consideration to establish its func-
tionality and role during goal-directed movement. Clearly,
the default interpretation that movement variability is syn-
onymous with noise is no longer tenable. However, this is not
to say that all motor variability is functional, but rather, that
not all variability is dysfunctional. Empirical research should
be firmly based on a theoretical framework, such as dynami-
cal systems theory, that can underpin hypothesis testing and
experimentation. Importantly, it is the structure, rather than
the magnitude, of variability that is important in uncovering
the functionality of this ubiquitous feature of human motor
1440-2440/$ – see front matter © 2009 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Letter to the Editor / Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 12 (2009) e2–e3 e3
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18. Newell KM, Slifkin AB. The nature of movementvariability. In: Piek JP,
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Paul S. Glazier
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Sheffield Hallam
University, Collegiate Campus, Sheffield, UK
Keith Davids
School of Human Movement Studies, Queensland
University of Technology, Australia
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (P.S. Glazier)
13 February 2009
... It is proposed that, in becoming skilled, the system consolidates an 'attractor state' ensuring that the movement is performed consistently well while also developing the ability to adapt to changes in the constraints (Davids, Glazier, Araujo, & Bartlett, 2003;Glazier & Davids, 2009a;Seifert, Komar, Araújo, & Davids, 2016). ...
... Indeed, researchers have rejected the historic notion that the presence of variability in the motor patterns of skilled movers reduces the performance level. Rather, variability acts as a functional aid to performance in terms of offering different motor solutions to optimise kinematic patterns (Bartlett, Wheat, & Robins, 2007;Glazier & Davids, 2009a;Langdown, Bridge, & Li, 2012). For example, in the case of a basketball shot, the segmental rotations and positions of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist vary across trials, and yet they interact successfully to optimise the endpoint movement pattern (i.e. the trajectory of the hand: Button, Macleod, Sanders, & Coleman, 2003). ...
... * statistical significance (p < .05). experiment reflect the process of optimising performance through many pattern repetitions to develop, in terms of the dynamical systems perspective, deep and stable attractors suited to the behavioural dynamics of the task (Davids et al., 2003;Glazier & Davids, 2009a;Seifert et al., 2016). ...
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Before examining the effect of changing constraints on skill adaptation, it is useful to know the tolerable variability of a movement pattern for optimal performance. Tolerable variability may vary throughout the period of task performance as some parts of the movement pattern may be more important than others. The purpose of this study was to quantify the inter-trial variability of performance variables, and hand path as the task-relevant parameter, of skilled front crawl swimmers during 25 m sprints. It was hypothesised that the wrist paths would have smaller inter-trial variability during the below water phase than during the above water phase. Twelve skilled swimmers performed four 25 m front crawl sprints which were recorded by six phased locked video cameras for three-dimensional analysis. Standard deviations and time series repeatability (R²) of the right and left wrist displacement were determined. On average, swimmers varied their sprint speed between trials by <1.5%. The spatio-temporal patterns of wrist paths varied by <3 cm in all directions (horizontal, vertical & lateral). There was no significant difference in inter-trial variability between above and below water phases. Swimmers increased wrist path consistency at the critical events of water entry in the horizontal and lateral directions and at exit for the horizontal direction. This study established levels of variability in spatio-temporal movement patterns of the paths of the wrist in sprint swimming and provided evidence that swimmers minimise variability for key events, in this case, the position of the wrists at water entry and exit.
... However, Glazier & Davids (2009) [66] state that it is the structure, ...
... However, Glazier & Davids (2009) [66] state that it is the structure, ...
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The aim of this study was to identify between-position (forwards vs. backs) differences in movement variability in cumulative tackle events training during both attacking and defensive roles. Eleven elite adolescent male rugby league players volunteered to participate in this study (mean ± SD, age; 18.5 ± 0.5 years, height; 179.5 ± 5.0 cm, body mass; 88.3 ± 13.0 kg). Participants performed a drill encompassing four blocks of six tackling (i.e. tackling an opponent) and six tackled (i.e. being tackled by an opponent while carrying a ball) events (i.e. 48 total tackles) while wearing a micro-technological inertial measurement unit (WIMU, Realtrack Systems, Spain). The acceleration data were used to calculate sample entropy (SampEn) to analyse the movement variability during tackles performance. In tackling actions SampEn showed significant between-position differences in block 1 (p = 0.0001) and block 2 (p = 0.0003). Significant between-block differences were observed in backs (block 1 vs 3, p = 0,0021; and block 1 vs 4, p = 0,0001) but not in forwards. When being tackled, SampEn showed significant between-position differences in block 1 (p = 0.0007) and block 3 (p = 0.0118). Significant between-block differences were only observed for backs in block 1 vs 4 (p = 0,0025). Movement variability shows a progressive reduction with cumulative tackle events, especially in backs and when in the defensive role (tackling). Forwards present lower movement variability values in all blocks, particularly in the first block, both in the attacking and defensive role. Entropy measures can be used by practitioners as an alternative tool to analyse the temporal structure of variability of tackle actions and quantify the load of these actions according to playing position.
... In fact, the above-referred incoherencies may be due to expertise, i.e., the ability to adapt to environmental or task constraints rather than reproducing a pre-determined motor pattern, giving insight into the technique in-between cycles, especially at maximal velocities (Seifert et al., 2016;Silva et al. 2019b). The inverse relationship between movement variability and experience is not fully acknowledged in the literature, with some studies showing reduced variability in less skilled performers compared to highly skilled counterparts (Ganzevles et al., 2019;Glazier & Davids, 2009). ...
Intra- and inter-cycle velocity variations are of utmost importance for achieving enhanced swimming performances. However, intra-cycle events can impact and interfere with the subsequent cycles, making relevant to study several consecutive cycles allowing a better understanding of this possibility. We have assessed front crawl intra- and inter-cyclic velocity variations and overall biomechanical variables in sprint front crawl swimming. Twenty-seven elite swimmers performed 25 m all-out front crawl, were videotaped using moving cameras placed at the sagittal plane and were grouped according to their sprint mean velocity. Coefficient of variation, root mean square error and mean velocity differences between two consecutive paired cycles allowed assessing intra- and inter-cycle velocity variations. Visual inspection was performed to analyse possible variability causes and independent-measures t-test allowed comparing groups. Sprint front crawl was characterised by intra- (11.12 ± 2.98) and inter-cycle velocity variation (2.27 ± 0.80 of inter-cycle velocity coefficient of variation and 0.031 ± 0.014 of root mean square error), with no differences between fastest and slowest swimmers. Front crawl intra-cycle velocity variation was not related to mean velocity and cycle sequence but considered swimmers' personal strategy. Despite some abnormal oscillations within cycles, inter-cycle velocity variation was not caused by intra-cycle velocity variation, mean velocity or cycle sequence.
... In this study, no biomechanical data were acquired, which limits interpretation the observed outcomes. Furthermore, this study did not allow for an extensive familiarization period, which may explain the large variability in the outcomes [66], [67]. In this study the exoskeleton condition was compared to a condition without exoskeleton. ...
Full-text available
Objective. This paper assesses the effect of a passive shoulder exoskeleton prototype, Exo4Work, on muscle activity, muscle fatigue and subjective experience during simulated occupational overhead and non-overhead work. Methods. Twenty-two healthy males performed six simulated industrial tasks with and without Exo4Work exoskeleton in a randomized counterbalanced cross-over design. During these tasks electromyography, heart rate, metabolic cost, subjective parameters and performance parameters were acquired. The effect of the exoskeleton and the body side on these parameters was investigated. Results. Anterior deltoid activity and fatigue reduced up to 16% and 41%, respectively, during isometric overhead work, and minimized hindrance of the device during non-overhead tasks. Wearing the exoskeleton increased feelings of frustration and increased discomfort in the areas where the exoskeleton and the body interfaced. The assistive effect of the exoskeleton was less prominent during dynamic tasks. Conclusion. This exoskeleton may reduce muscle activity and delay development of muscle fatigue in an overhead working scenario. For dynamic applications, the exoskeleton's assistive profile, which mimics the gravitational torque of the arm, is potentially sub-optimal. Significance. This evaluation paper is the first to report reduced muscle fatigue and activity when working with an occupational shoulder exoskeleton providing one third of the gravitational torque of the arm during overhead work. These results stress the potential of occupational shoulder exoskeletons in overhead working situations and may direct towards longitudinal field experiments. Additionally, this experiment may stimulate future work to further investigate the effect of different assistive profiles.
... Also, the intra-and inter-individual variability of motor coordination and more generally of swimming technique would not be considered as an error with regard to the expert model, but as functional, i.e. a variety of behaviour and resources to be used by the teacher and coach to individualize and enrich their intervention (Davids, Glazier, Araújo, & Bartlett, 2003;. In sum, Adaptability means adapted and adaptive (or adaptable) behaviors: adapted behavior to a set of constraints reveals stability against perturbations, while adaptive or adaptable behavior reflects flexibility to guarantee functional solution to constraints that dynamically interact (Edelman & Gally, 2001;Glazier & Davids, 2009;Seifert et al., 2016). ...
... An increased distance has been shown to instigate a reorganization of motor system dynamics. Constraints either allow individuals to explore the available phase-space [28], or alternatively, constrain the human movement system to a narrow range of kinematic solutions [29]. In other words, constraints set boundaries or limits within a dynamical system [30]. ...
Full-text available
Purpose: This study used the uncontrolled manifold (UCM) approach to study joint coordination underlying the control of task-related variables important for success at dart throwing skill. Success at a task can be achieved, in principle, by always adopting a particular joint combination. In contrast, we adopt a more selective control strategy: variations of the joint configuration that leave the values of essential task variables unchanged are predicted to be less controlled (i.e., stabilized to a lesser degree) than joint configuration changes that shift the values of the task variables. Material: How this abundance of motor solutions is managed by the nervous system and whether and how the throwing in different distances affects the solution to joint coordination was investigated in this study. Our experimental task involved dart throwing to a target under three conditions (standard, short and long distance) that it performed by fifteen dart professional and semiprofessional athletes. The four joint angles of the arm were obtained from the recorded positions of markers on the limb segments. The variability of joint configurations was decomposed into components lying parallel to those sets and components lying in their complement with respect to control of the path of the arm’s center of mass and spatial position of the hand. Results: When performing the task in all three different conditions, fluctuations of joint configuration that affected arm’s center of mass and spatial position variables were much reduced compared with fluctuations that did not affect these variables. The UCM principle applied to arm’s center of mass and spatial position thus captures the structure of the motor control system across different parts of joint configuration space as the movement evolves in time. Moreover, constraints representing an invariant arm’s center of mass or the spatial position structured joint configuration variability in the early and mid-portion of the movement trajectory, but not at the time of throwing. This specific control strategy indicate a target can be hit successfully also by controlling irrelevant directions in joint space equally to relevant ones. Conclusions: The results suggests a specific control strategy in which changes of joint configuration that are irrelevant to success at the task are selectively released from control. As a result, the method can be successfully used to determine the structure of coordination in joint space that underlies the control of the essential variables for a given task.
... However, adaptability does not signify that experts display an optimal motor pattern to act appropriately in a given situation: they may display functional 1 B. Guignard and L. Seifert are with CETAPS laboratory, University of Rouen Normandy, Mont Saint Aignan, France. E-mails:, variability necessary to satisfy the task goal [3]. By using a swimming flume (where water comes frontally at the participants), we were able to perform a direct manipulation of the fluid flow (environmental constraint) in order to test for swimmer's behavioral adaptability. ...
Conference Paper
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The aim of this study was to understand the behav-ioral adaptability when environmental constraint was manipulated. In swimming, the continuous and dynamic individual-environment coupling offers a suitable vehicle to understand how aquatic environment can promote effective actions. We manipulated the fluid flow with a trial performed in a flume in comparison to a classic swimming pool, at maximal speed. Five national-level male swimmers performed a bout in a 50 m swimming pool and a trial in the flume. We analyzed the inter cyclic behavioral variability of the left hand/lower-arm coupling by computing the Normalized Root Mean Square of angle-angle plots. Significant differences were observed between environments during the catch and push phases suggesting that the fluid flow constrains swimmers to adopt a specific movement pattern to remain at the same position in the flume.
... In this sense, identifying and manipulating key constraints is a way to test the adaptive nature of behavior as a function of perturbation ( Davids, Button, & Bennett, 2008;Newell, 1986). The so-called constraints-led approach ( Davids, Glazier, Araújo, & Bartlett, 2003) is an appropriate perspective for studying (i) the reinforcement of behaviors or the emergence of new movement patterns ( Seifert et al., 2014) and (ii) the motor variability that skilled swimmers exhibit to functionally adapt to the situations they encounter ( Glazier & Davids, 2009a). In swimming, several categories of constraints (i.e., expertise, stroke rate, swimming speed and gender; see Seifert, Chollet, & Rouard, 2007a) have been used to investigate their possible influence on aquatic locomotion ( Seifert, Button, & Brazier, 2010) and the variability of this emerging behavior ( Seifert et al., 2014). ...
This study assessed perception-action coupling in expert swimmers by focusing on their upper limb inter-segmental coordination in front crawl. To characterize this coupling, we manipulated the fluid flow and compared trials performed in a swimming pool and a swimming flume, both at a speed of 1.35ms(-1). The temporal structure of the stroke cycle and the spatial coordination and its variability for both hand/lower arm and lower arm/upper arm couplings of the right body side were analyzed as a function of fluid flow using inertial sensors positioned on the corresponding segments. Swimmers' perceptions in both environments were assessed using the Borg rating of perceived exertion scale. Results showed that manipulating the swimming environment impacts low-order (e.g., temporal, position, velocity or acceleration parameters) and high-order (i.e., spatial-temporal coordination) variables. The average stroke cycle duration and the relative duration of the catch and glide phases were reduced in the flume trial, which was perceived as very intense, whereas the pull and push phases were longer. Of the four coordination patterns (in-phase, anti-phase, proximal and distal: when the appropriate segment is leading the coordination of the other), flume swimming demonstrated more in-phase coordination for the catch and glide (between hand and lower arm) and recovery (hand/lower arm and lower arm/upper arm couplings). Conversely, the variability of the spatial coordination was not significantly different between the two environments, implying that expert swimmers maintain consistent and stable coordination despite constraints and whatever the swimming resistances. Investigations over a wider range of velocities are needed to better understand coordination dynamics when the aquatic environment is modified by a swimming flume. Since the design of flumes impacts significantly the hydrodynamics and turbulences of the fluid flow, previous results are mainly related to the characteristics of the flume used in the present study (or a similar one), and generalization is subject to additional investigations.
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Movement variability is defined as the normal variations in motor performance across multiple repetitions of a task. However, the term “movement variability” can mean different things depending on context, and when used by itself does not capture the specifics of what has been investigated. Within sport, complex movements are performed repeatedly under a variety of different constraints (e.g. different situations, presence of defenders, time pressure). Movement variability has implications for sport performance and injury risk management. Given the importance of movement variability, it is important to understand the terms used to measure and describe it. This broad term of “movement variability” does not specify the different types of movement variability that are currently being assessed in the sporting literature. We conducted a scoping review (1) to assess the current terms and definitions used to describe movement variability within sporting tasks and (2) to utilise the results of the review for a proposed framework that distinguishes and defines the different types of movement variability within sporting tasks. To be considered eligible, sources must have assessed a sporting movement or skill and had at least one quantifiable measure of movement variability. A total of 43 peer-reviewed journal article sources were included in the scoping review. A total of 280 terms relating to movement variability terminology were extracted using a data-charting form jointly developed by two reviewers. One source out of 43 (2%) supplied definitions for all types of movement variability discussed. Moreover, 169 of 280 terms (60%) were undefined in the source material. Our proposed theoretical framework explains three types of movement variability: strategic, execution, and outcome. Strategic variability describes the different approaches or methods of movement used to complete a task. Execution variability describes the intentional and unintentional adjustments of the body between repetitions within the same strategy. Outcome variability describes the differences in the result or product of a movement. These types emerged from broader frameworks in motor control and were adapted to fit the movement variability needs in sports literature. By providing specific terms with explicit definitions, our proposed framework can ensure like-to-like comparisons of previous terms used in the literature. The practical goal of this framework is to aid athletes, coaches, and support staff to gain a better understanding of how the different types of movement variability within sporting tasks contribute to performance. The framework may allow training methods to be tailored to optimise the specific aspects of movement variability that contribute to success. This review was retrospectively registered using the Open Science Framework (OSF) Registries (
This study evaluated the short- and long-term effects of unstable shoes (US) on the structure/shape of variability in gait. Therefore, sample entropy (SEn) values of centre of mass velocity (vCOM) signals in medio-lateral (ML), anterior-posterior (AP) and vertical (VT) direction were computed for 12 sport students during walking with US and flat shoes (FS) before and after a 10-week accommodation period. Statistical analysis included two-way repeated-measures ANOVA followed by post hoc tests where appropriate (α = 0.05). Most noteworthy, it was found that (1) when compared to FS, using US increased the predictability of vCOM time series, not necessarily always at pre-test, but especially at post-test since (2) the corresponding SEn values decreased for the US condition while remaining stable for the FS condition during the interval between laboratory visits, although (3) the related shoe-by-visit interaction effects were only significant for vCOMML data and not for vCOMAP nor for vCOMVT data. Accordingly, the path of adapting to US was characterised by a "decomplexification" of the motor system; however, the variable practice (i.e., training) loads accompanying such a footwear intervention were probably too small to further expand the overall flexibility capabilities of athletically active persons (in more real-life settings).
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When we make saccadic eye movements or goal-directed arm movements, there is an infinite number of possible trajectories that the eye or arm could take to reach the target. However, humans show highly stereotyped trajectories in which velocity profiles of both the eye and hand are smooth and symmetric for brief movements. Here we present a unifying theory of eye and arm movements based on the single physiological assumption that the neural control signals are corrupted by noise whose variance increases with the size of the control signal. We propose that in the presence of such signal-dependent noise, the shape of a trajectory is selected to minimize the variance of the final eye or arm position. This minimum-variance theory accurately predicts the trajectories of both saccades and arm movements and the speed-accuracy trade-off described by Fitt's law. These profiles are robust to changes in the dynamics of the eye or arm, as found empirically. Moreover, the relation between path curvature and hand velocity during drawing movements reproduces the empirical 'two-thirds power law. This theory provides a simple and powerful unifying perspective for both eye and arm movement control.
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Bernstein (The Co-ordination and Regulation of Movements, Pergamon, London, 1967) outlined a theoretical framework for the degrees of freedom problem in motor control that included a 3-stage approach to the reorganization of the peripheral biomechanical degrees of freedom in motor learning and development. We propose that Bernstein's conception of change through the stages of learning is too narrow in its consideration of the degrees of freedom problem and the actual pathways of change evident in motor learning. It is shown that change in both the organization of the mechanical degrees of freedom and the dimension of the attractor dynamic organizing motor output can either increase or decrease, according to the confluence of constraints imposed on action. The central issue determining directional change in dimension is whether the dimensionality of the task relevant intrinsic dynamic needs to be increased or decreased to realize new task demands.
the acquisition of skill is examined with reference to the nature of the evolving perceptual-motor workspace / the evolution and dissolution of gradient and equilibrium regions within the workspace is [sic] discussed relative to the constraints on action / some experimental data are reported which address the impact of some of the features of perceptual-motor workspaces on exploratory behavior, criterion performance, and transfer while learning to locate the minimum of an unknown function (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This is an upper-level undergraduate or graduate textbook for courses in human movement and skill acquisition. A professional reference for movement practitioners and scientists, including teachers, coaches, physical educators, physical therapists, rehabilitation specialists, sport scientists, psychologists, biomechanists, and physiologists. The book provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the constraints-led perspective, a recognized theory in motor learning and control. It outlines the development of a conceptual model of coordination and control within a multidisciplinary framework, capturing the various interlocking scales of analysis (e.g., neural, behavioral, psychological) and the many subsystems (e.g., perceptual and movement) involved in producing behavior. A conceptual model of coordination and control is important not just for designing learning environments, but it is also important for ensuring that learners gain positive experiences when acquiring motor skills. Practitioners and students will appreciate the applied focus which outlines a model of human movement with specific constraints-led approach strategies that address skill acquisition across a variety of professions, including teaching, coaching, and rehabilitation. By learning both the theoretical origins and applications for implementing a constraints-led approach to movement skill acquisition, readers will gain insight into how the informed organization of learning and rehabilitation environments produces more effective and efficient use of practice and therapy time. Contents: Traditional theories of skill acquisition -- Physical constraints on coordination : dynamical systems theory -- Informational constraints on coordination : an ecological perspective -- Redefining learning : a constraints-led approach -- Understanding the dynamics of skill acquisition -- Dealing with individual differences : implications for a nonlinear pedagogy -- Organizing practice to optimize learning -- Using verbal guidance as an informational constraint on learners -- Observational learning as directed search -- Implementing the constraints-led approach: case studies.
Unlabelled: In this paper, we are presenting an alternative approach to the investigation of lower extremity coupling referred to as a dynamical systems approach. In this approach, we calculate the phase angle of each segment and joint angle. Pairing the key segment/joint motions, we use phase angles to determine the continuous relative phase and the variability of the continuous relative phase. Data from two studies illustrate the efficacy of the dynamical systems approach. Individuals who were asymptomatic, even though they may have anatomical aberrant structural problems (i.e. high Q-angle vs low Q-angle) showed no differences in the pattern of the continuous relative phase or in the variability of the continuous phase. However, differences in the variability of the continuous relative phase were apparent in comparing individuals who were symptomatic with patellofemoral pain with non-injured individuals. Patellofemoral pain individuals showed less variability in the continuous relative phase of the lower extremity couplings than did the healthy subjects. We hypothesize that the lower variability of the couplings in the symptomatic individuals indicates repeatable joint actions within a very narrow range. Relevance: We claim that the traditional view of the variability of disordered movement is not tenable and suggest that there is a functional role for variability in lower extremity segment coupling during locomotion. While the methods described in this paper cannot determine a cause of the injury, they may be useful in the detection and treatment of running injuries.