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Research Reviews

Brief Overview of Complex Systems in Sport Research and Practice

The Big Idea

A good example of Yiddish wit is the old parable, “Man plans, God laughs.”  By now this adage has not only achieved bumper sticker status, but the American hip hop group Public Enemy used it as the title of their 13th studio album (released July 16, 2015).  For our purposes then, it isn’t a stretch to connect this bit of wisdom to the world of sports.  After all, planning is at the root of most all preparation and performance in sport.  Is it possible that coaches and players alike can improve the odds against their plans going awry?

Complex Systems

There is a relatively new field of study that suggests there really is possibility of improvement in sport predictions and performances.  It is called complex systems.  And it is elbowing its way into the sciences-at-large.  Many of the research reviews previously published on the PDP website are papers loosely connected to this field.

At the root of complex systems is chaos theory.  You will recall that in chaos theory, initial and small changes in a system can...

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