Examining the sources of information that effect strategic goals and in-game decision making in Rugby Union
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The area surrounding an individual's decision making has been fairly well researched. However, the sources of information that can lead to an individual altering their on-field decisions are yet to be explored in any great depth. This study addresses the area of on-field decision making with a focus on their fluctuating goal states. An elite amateur, male, rugby union player was assessed over a three game period of Welsh 1st division rugby games. Pre-game they recorded specific team and individual goals and post game a retrospective verbal report method was used as the performer completed tables regarding the situations that arose when they were required to make a decision. The planned option, option taken, reasons why this option was taken and outcome of the decision were recorded. The key information was taken from the reasons "why" this decision was taken. The results revealed several specific sources of information that influenced the performer's decision making. These were: the actions or positioning of the defence; the game situation; the speed or quality of ball from the ruck or set-piece; the quality of pass received; a change of call from a team mate; the lines or actions of team mates. There was particularly strong support for the work of Hardy et al. (1996) that different goals are more prominent at different times, depending on the situation and for Harwood & Swain (2001) who put forward that goal state fluctuations may be due to a complex interaction of factors including those of the motivational climate conveyed by significant others, the structural and social nature of the game, the match context and the cognitive-development skills and experiences. Directions for future research included expanding the study to rugby players from different ages, sex and ability level or using concurrent means to gather the data.
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