Decision Making Skills.
Every moment of our life consists of a constant succession of decision making. Every election triggers a consequence, which is easily visible during the practice of a sport. The decision-making process, most of the time, is automatic and therefore unconscious; it is guided or facilitated by both emotions and previous memories and it also has the ability to change depending on the context. These characteristics of the decision-making process arise as a result of changes in our brain throughout the evolution. The acquisition of new networks have equipped our current brain with three different systems. Instinctive (unconscious), emotional (unconscious) and cognitive-executive (conscious) (Ignacio Morgado ….) The higher speed processing of the emotional system with respect to the cognitive-executive justifies that most decisions are made unconsciously from the emotional brain.
The importance of maintaining an optimal emotional state during sports, which will directly influence on our decision making skills is deduced from the above. This optimal emotional state is personal for each athlete, which should provide a perception of control over the situation and thus facilitate a good performance. Memory is another influential factor on our decision making skills. All the information relating to earlier decisions in competitions or game situations (Gracía, 2011) is stored in memory. Expert performance in sport (Thomas, French, Humphries, 1986) was conceptualized as a complex product that results from the comparison of a current situation with past events and it is also combined with the individual’s ability to produce the skills required at that time. Current and past events serve to plan future actions and predict game situations. This knowledge stored in our memory will condition decisions, so that the larger and more varied this knowledge is, the better will the anticipation and decision making of athletes be.
The act of deciding takes place during the moments before action and in the moments after perception. Athletes need to perceive and interpret (Williams, Ward, Smeeton, Allen, 2004) the information quickly so they have enough time to plan, initiate and execute a response. Focusing attention (Bard, Fleury, 1981) on important elements of the environment and developing visual search patterns will enable athletes to analyze the context more effectively (Abernethy, 2011). Experts use the information from the motor patterns of opponents to anticipate their behavior and to decide more quickly and accurately, thus achieving a more efficient processing of information.
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
A high sport performance is the result of several factors, among which are found good decisions and the ability to perform the required action. The decision making skills could be improved by:
• Techniques that help the athlete to maintain an optimal emotional state
• Exercises to improve perception
• Development of sessions in which the athlete needs to seek adaptive actions and decisions which will be available to be transferred from memory during the competition.
Do you consider decision making as a plentiful and trainable factor? We look forward to receiving your comments. firstname.lastname@example.org
Abernethy, B. (2011). Attention. Handbook of sport psychology, 53-85.
Bard, C., Fleury, M. (1981). Considering eye movements as predictor of attainment. Vision and sport, 28-41.
García, L., Araujo, D., Carvalho, J., Villar (2011). Panorámica de las teorías y métodos de investigación en torno a la toma de decisiones en el tenis. Revista de psicología del deporte, 2, 645-660.
Morgado, I. Emoción y razón en el cerebro. Instituto de neurociencia de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.
Thomas, J., French, K., Humphries, C. (1986). Knowledge development and sport performance. Directions for motor behavior research. Journal of Sport Psychology, 8, 259-272.
Williams, A., Ward, P., Smeeton, N., Allen, D. (2004). Developing anticipation skills in tennis using on-court instructions: perception versus perception and action. Journal of Applied sport psychology, 16, 350-360.