Author: Pawel van der Steen

Introduction to Ecological Dynamics

Ecological Dynamics is a scientific framework that studies the behaviour neurobiological systems. This involves how living organisms form processes of action, perception and cognition. It is a very holistic approach to studying behaviour, as it considers both the living organism, as well as the environment that it relies and acts upon.

Ecological Dynamics (ED) is a framework that finds its roots in two other fields of science: The psychological school of thought called Ecological Psychology and the mathematical approach called Dynamical Systems Theory. Having a brief understanding of both theories is necessary to understand why they compliment each other so well, and ultimately it allows us to understand what Ecological Dynamics is and why it is relevant in sports coaching, including Parkour.

Affordances: Perception and Action

”The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. The verb to afford is found in the dictionary, the noun affordance is not. I have made it up. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment.”

Gibson (1979, p.127)

One of the most widely used theories from the Ecological Psychology framework is that of affordances. In short, affordances are action possibilities that the environment provides us. Affordances made their way from Ecological Psychology into various fields like sports coaching and movement sciences, to product design and artificial intelligence. Even people disagreeing with Ecological Psychology and direct perception have jumped on the Affordance wagon. What exactly is the concept of Affordances, why is it so widely applied and what does it offer the world of sports coaching?

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