**New Podcast** Calibration: How do horses and riders become attuned to each other and their environments?

We are very excited to publish our first podcast with a focus on equestrian sports.

Join Marianne Davies and her wonderful guests Warren Lamperd (MSc Coaching Science, UKCC L4 Coach & 5* Event Rider), and James Stafford PhD (experimental psychologist specialising in perception-action coupling and calibration of movement), to explore the application of ‘Calibrating perception and Action: How we become skilful at timing our movements’ to the equestrian world.

In this podcast we focus on how the horse and human become attuned to each other and to their shared environment. This is a fascinating conversation, not only for anyone involved in the equestrian world, but for any performance partnerships, human or animal.

Calibration: How do horses and riders become attuned to each other and their environments?

Participants needed for PhD study: What are skilled showjumpers paying attention to?

‘Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.” Schopenhauer

As this quote suggests, skilled performance is not just about what we do (movement), but what we perceive (for example; see, hear, feel), and the decisions we make.

Despite a wealth of applied and evidence based research into skill acquisition, there is very little research published that is specific to equestrian sports. Equestrian sports are unique in that the performance partnership is interspecies, requiring the horse and human to become skilful in their interactions and relationships with each other, practice activities, and performance environments.

Becoming skilful at showjumping
The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of the perceptual and decision making skills of showjumping riders. To do this we are using an adaptation of a tool called ‘Think Aloud’. Think Aloud has been used in many sports including golf, cycling and rugby to elucidate what athletes are thinking and noticing. As well being used for research, Think Aloud has also been shown to improve skilled performance and be a valuable coaching and reflection tool.

For a brief overview of Think Aloud listen to the short video in this link.

This study is part of a wider project investigating how showjumpers become skilful and how this knowledge could be applied to coaching.

How can you help?
Who are we looking for?
Group 1 = Highly skilled show jumpers – need to be, or have been, competing at National Level and at 1.30m or above.
Group 2 = Competent novice show jumpers – need to be competing confidently at British Showjumping 80cm – 100cm.

There are two parts to this study and we are looking for participants to volunteer for either part, or both parts 1 & 2.

Study 2 Part 1
What will you be asked to do?
You will be asked to give about 45 mins – 60 mins of your time (done virtually on Zoom or another platform of your choice) to take part in a semi-structured interview and some ‘Think Aloud’ where you will be asked to comment on what you notice while watching a series of video clips from a National Final 90cm class and a Grand prix final.

Study 2 Part 2
What will you be asked to do?
For this part of the study we will join you at a competition (it’s ideal to choose one that is not a serious competition for you as participating should be beneficial for your training/ coaching support).

You will be asked to ‘think aloud’ as you walk the course and to wear eye tracking devise. Once you have jumped the course you will be asked to reflect on your round.

What this research aims to achieve
Our aim is to see if there are differences between highly skilled and competent riders in what they see (are aware of). We will use this knowledge to add to the body of equestrian sports specific research into skill acquisition and development and inform future research, coach training, development and coaching practice.

For more information about this project or about how you can help be participating, please email Marianne at Marianne.J.Davies@student.shu.ac.uk
Marianne Davies is a PhD candidate at Sheffield Hallam University and a Senior Coach Developer at UK Coaching.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Marianne Davies
Study slots calendar

Inspiring engagement by finding pleasure in movement!

“Why do you love to move?
What are your memories, sensations, feelings, place, setting, people, pleasure..?
Do you remember why you love to move?

Karen Lambert asks this question at the beginning of a recent research paper.

I’m writing this as an introduction to a podcast I took part in at the beginning of April 2020 discussing Karen Lambert’s paper. (There is a link to the podcast here and the research article reference at the end.) It is also two weeks into the Corona lockdown. I’m aching to be in the water; surfing, paddling, swimming, doing anything as long as it is in wild water! I’m also desperate to ride my horses. And I can’t do either. I am shocked at how much my whole body craves movement at the moment. Not just any movement though. My experience of pleasurable movement has always been in adventure sports. Pushing my body and mind, being immersed in nature. I assumed that traditional sport was more a chore than an exhilarating experience (although I now know I was wrong there!). Continue reading “Inspiring engagement by finding pleasure in movement!”

Fluid dynamics, weather systems and skill acquisition

Do we need to understand learning and coaching theories?

As a coach, how much do you think about theories of becoming skilful when you are making your coaching decisions?

Learning a new language

I remember being introduced to dynamical systems theory and ecological psychology in my undergraduate motor control lectures in the early ’90s and thinking that someone had just switched a light on for the first time. The concepts made so much sense; they were fascinating, exciting, intuitively simple, and reflected everything I saw in the natural world around me.

However, as I started trying to conduct my research in motor learning I found myself entangled in a hugely complex theoretical and mathematical web and having to learn what felt like a whole new language. The emergence of ecological dynamics (ED) as a coherent framework for understanding skill acquisition, and the constraints-led approach to guide practice design, has made the concepts much easier to embrace and use in research, coaching practice and designing learning contexts. Continue reading “Fluid dynamics, weather systems and skill acquisition”