The Role of Ecological Constraints on Expertise Development

Review by: William A. Harper
By Duarte Araújo, Christina Fonseca, Keith Davids, Júlio Garganta, Anna Volossovitch, Regina Brandão, and Ruy Krebs

The Big Idea

The Big Idea 

Essentially, this publication is a position paper.  The topic of the paper is the development of sport expertise.  The more conventional understanding of the interactions between an individual and a specific performance environment is to seek explanations for such expertise based mostly on what is going on “inside” the player (referred to as “organismic asymmetry”).  The less conventional understanding—and the position taken in this paper—is that too little attention is given to the environment-performer interaction to explain expertise development.

This position takes the reader through a less traveled path of a bioecological framework for understanding the dynamics of multi-level subsystems necessary to expertise acquisition in Brazilian football.  Their primary evidence for learning more about informal, unconventional environmental constraints on expertise are document analysis and verbal reports from existing and past football experts.

Brazilian football is ideally suited to be the best example of player-environment interactions given the storied history and playing style of high level of football skill in Brazil.  In this look at Brazilian football in the context of ecological constraints, it is possible to see how talent development programs can change their practices; this change can capture the principles of unstructured play to guarantee that their players are open to the positive influence of informal environmental constraints.  That’s how meaningful practice contexts can be designed.