A scale-based approach to interdisciplinary research and expertise in sports

  • Ibanez-Gijon Jorge
  • Buekers Martinus J.
  • Morice Antoine H.P.
  • Rao Guillaume
  • Mascret Nicolas
  • Laurin Jérôme
  • Montagne Gilles

  • Expertise
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Dynamical systems
  • Ecological approach
  • Basket- ball free throw


After more than 20 years since the introduction of ecological and dynamical approaches in sports research, their promising opportunity for interdisciplinary research has not been fulfilled yet. The complexity of the research process and the theoretical and empirical difficulties associated with an integrated ecological-dynamical approach have been the major factors hindering the generalisation of interdisciplinary projects in sports sciences. To facilitate this generalisation, we integrate the major concepts from the ecological and dynamical approaches to study behaviour as a multi-scale process. Our integration gravitates around the distinction between functional (ecological) and execution (organic) scales, and their reciprocal intra- and inter-scale constraints. We propose an (epistemological) scale-based definition of constraints that accounts for the concept of synergies as emergent coordina- tive structures. To illustrate how we can operationalise the notion of multi-scale synergies we use an interdisciplinary model of locomotor pointing. To conclude, we show the value of this approach for interdisciplinary research in sport sciences, as we discuss two examples of task-specific dimensionality reduction techniques in the context of an ongoing project that aims to unveil the determinants of expertise in basketball free throw shooting. These techniques provide relevant empirical evidence to help bootstrap the challenging modelling efforts required in sport sciences.