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Circles of Decision-Making

Posted on 17 April 2011 by Jon Moore

The circles of approach, Event decision-making:

This document will illustrate how the unique interface structure within SportsCode can enhance the visual feedback given to an individual athlete. Decision making decisions are assessed through the movement in time towards the skill acquisitions, or let’s call them the individual moments, within the whole event.

A team sport example will be used to demonstrate the process, At the centre of the circle is the contact area between these opposing forces, the centre of the circle becomes a contact area or an area for a skill acquisition that challenges the opposing side.

Each circle represents a distance away from the individual moment in either attack or defence, so when this is related to the timeline in sportscode the circles also represent a period of time, this is illustrated in (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1: Principal to ‘Circles of approach, event decision making’

The circles have no fixed distance or time, they are dependent on the situation and required action. It is now possible to sit alongside the athlete and navigate the time line and ask such questions as:

  • What are the list of things you are coached to understand when you are in that proximity to the contact?
  • What would be your best choice of action?

Consider a series of observations through the circles of decision-making for a rugby scenario. Firstly from looking at the timeline and the instances created along the row (Diagram 2) of the players names, this assists in assessing a player’s proximity to the action on the ball.

Diagram 2: Timeline displaying tall instances for one player (circles of approach applied to one instance)

(The player may be at the centre of the circle as the attacker or defender). At this point from looking at the decision making diagram (Diagram 3) a player is questioned on the skill acquisition they have been coached to perform in a given situation (i.e as ball carrier or defending tackler). The list of skill actions are the language of coaching from that particular team and set of coaches (the list of skills is represented by a 1 to 5  numbering in (Diagram 3).

Diagram 3: Skill Acquisition

The first circle from the contact point has now got a new set of skill acquisition, if he is the player in this proximity to the action on the ball the list has been well defined in the coaching language once again.

For example:

  • Look for the off load ball and continue the attacking movement
  • Time run to be the first contribution at the ruck and maul
  • Try to seal the ball at the tackle area,

By moving the cursor along the timeline, the distances between the circles can be used to challenge the athlete to answer your questions, what did you see, how did you read the situation, did you apply the right decision and execute the skill correctly, now as a visual learning tool the message really starts to sink in.

When considering next outer circles, real game understanding is assessed, what visual messages are our players seeing and are they reading the situation properly to apply a decisive skill action. So we have dealt with the player on the ball, attacker or defender, and have discussed the the next circle of area in proximity to the ballcarrier, now consider that the next outer circle has a new list. The first question to answer (to player) is, do I remain in this proximity circle or do I enter the inner circle and decisively choose my options?

Commonly in team sports individuals are challenged to manage themselves as a resource during patterns of play, so when looking at the transition between this circle and the inner circle we really start to get the individual to understand the importance of scanning and digesting the information they see. A player can use the timeline to observe the times they have moved into the inner circle and arrived too late and not contributed, as opposed to holding his distance and positioning himself in the outer circle to be a far more effective resource in the next passage of play.

One of the lists of skills and tactics the player may choose would be to position themselves as a runner off the shoulder of the potential first receiver cutting aline back towards the defence. The list of decisions available to them to choose from being the coaching language for this particular group. At this point structured feedback guided from the timeline features and an understanding of the transitions between the circles of approach really becomes very powerful, with the player now asked to confirm understanding of the tactics skills and execution of all their individual moments in the lead up to their decision-making.

Decisions made in the furthest circles (outer circle) become more tactical and involve assessing patterns of play beyond just one single phase of play. Once again the first question a player must be asked is do they need to move into the inner circle and apply those well founded coaching processes.

This process offers a new role for coaches and analysts, providing an opportunity to confirm game understanding and critique individual skill acquisition. Using a structured method such as the ‘circles of approach decision making’ conformation that the coaching coaching language used on the training field is being translating into game events can be achieved.

The sportscode timeline can play an important visual process. If we extending the uses of the rows when looking at individual performance we can create patterns that indicate lack of activity and balance when they manage their self as a resource through the patterns of play. If we have one row for the players moments it becomes clear any gaps in activity. See (Diagram 4)

Diagram 4

However if we separate the ball in hand and defensive moments from ruck and maul involvement to a new row on the timeline, an imbalance between contributions at the rucks and mauls and presenting themselves as a runner or defender is more evident.

From just looking at the patterns in the timeline it quickly gives a coach or analyst a indication weather the player has a good understanding of managing themselves as a resource throughout the game, also adding to this the timeline indicates when the game has lost its structure (i.e start start game, very set piece orientated).  See (Diagram 5)


Diagram 5

 By adding a third row in the timeline it is possible to see the moments where a player has correctly presented themselves as a running option or contributed effectively in a defensive alignment but without making a run or tackle, this final row completes the individuals mapping of their performance, this process can be easily used from sport to sport the circles of approach may alter in time and distance, the coaching the language is different the message remains powerful to the individual feedback. See (Diagram 6)

Diagram 6

Written by Jon Moore

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