Momentum profiling using perturbations in elite female squash
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Momentum in sport is classified as a ‘rhythmic reinforcement’ where the energy generated becomes recycled through a loose cybernetic feedback system of upwardly spiralling elation and achievement (Adler and Adler, 1978). Positive momentum can be characterised by a winning streak, for example, in squash, by a player hitting a succession of winners, thus attaining a psychological state of mind where most everything ‘goes right’ for the performer (Burke et al., 1997). Fenwick et al. (2006) found that the World number ones, both men and women, managed their momentum swings better than their peers, as they exhibited significantly greater lengths of positive momentum. Fuller (2007) extended this study and examined how momentum calculated from perturbations might complement traditional methods of compiling performance profiles from winners and errors. The aims of this study were to create momentum profiles using perturbations for elite female players, and examine how these perturbation momentum curves might complement traditional methods of compiling performance profiles from winners and errors. Data from competitive matches (N=3 for each player) on the WISPA circuit were analysed from DVD post event, on four elite female players ranked within the top five of the World. Intra-operator reliability test was performed, the overall highest error being 9.1%, which was deemed acceptable due to the subjective nature of the data. Perturbations were identified from all areas of the court with the backhand back corner the most predominant. Drop shot (34%), volley drop (15%) and boast (13%), were identified as the likeliest of causes of perturbations reinforcing the findings of Hughes et al. (2005) with the cross-court volley drop (11%) and cross-court drives (9%), narrowly following. The distribution of perturbations were significantly different (P<0.001) from the distributions of winners and errors. It was strongly felt that the curves are best used with their individual match sequentiality retained – enabling an insight into the particular changes in momentum in each match. In this way the use of perturbation momentum curves does complement and inform the traditional methods of compiling performance profiles.
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