Football, Culture, Skill Development and Sport Coaching: Extending Ecological Approaches in Athlete Development Using the Skilled Intentionality Framework

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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Abstract

In this manuscript, we extend ecological approaches and suggest ideas for enhancing athlete development by utilizing the Skilled Intentionality Framework. A broad aim is to illustrate the extent to which social, cultural and historical aspects of life are embodied in the way football is played and the skills young footballers develop during learning. Here, we contend that certain aspects of the world are “weighted” with social and cultural significance, “standing out” to be more readily perceived and simultaneously acted upon when playing football. To comprehend how patterns of team coordination and athletic skill embody aspects of culture and context we outline the value-directedness of player-environment intentionality. We demonstrate that the values an individual can express are constrained by the character of the social institutions and the social order in which people live. In particular, we illuminate the extent to which value-directedness can act as a constraint on the skill development of football players “for good or ill.” We achieve this goal by outlining key ecological and relational concepts that help illustrate the extent to which affordances are value-realizing and intentionality is value-directed. To enhance coaching practice, we offer: insights into markers of skilled intentionality, and, the language of skilled intentions, as well as highlighting, an additional principle of Non-linear Pedagogy: Shaping skilled intentions, or more precisely shaping the value-directedness of player-environment intentionality. We contend that, if sport practitioners do not skilfully attend to sociocultural constraints and shape the intentions of players within training environments and games, the social, cultural, and historic constraints of their environment will do so: constantly soliciting some affordances over others and directing skill development.

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