Sports Medicine - Open
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Human Performance
Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship / Tasmanian Institute of Sport / University of Tasmania
Movement variability is defined as the normal variations in motor performance across multiple repetitions of a task. However, the term “movement variability” can mean different things depending on context, and when used by itself does not capture the specifics of what has been investigated. Within sport, complex movements are performed repeatedly under a variety of different constraints (e.g. different situations, presence of defenders, time pressure). Movement variability has implications for sport performance and injury risk management. Given the importance of movement variability, it is important to understand the terms used to measure and describe it. This broad term of “movement variability” does not specify the different types of movement variability that are currently being assessed in the sporting literature. We conducted a scoping review (1) to assess the current terms and definitions used to describe movement variability within sporting tasks and (2) to utilise the results of the review for a proposed framework that distinguishes and defines the different types of movement variability within sporting tasks. To be considered eligible, sources must have assessed a sporting movement or skill and had at least one quantifiable measure of movement variability. A total of 43 peer-reviewed journal article sources were included in the scoping review. A total of 280 terms relating to movement variability terminology were extracted using a data-charting form jointly developed by two reviewers. One source out of 43 (2%) supplied definitions for all types of movement variability discussed. Moreover, 169 of 280 terms (60%) were undefined in the source material. Our proposed theoretical framework explains three types of movement variability: strategic, execution, and outcome. Strategic variability describes the different approaches or methods of movement used to complete a task. Execution variability describes the intentional and unintentional adjustments of the body between repetitions within the same strategy. Outcome variability describes the differences in the result or product of a movement. These types emerged from broader frameworks in motor control and were adapted to fit the movement variability needs in sports literature. By providing specific terms with explicit definitions, our proposed framework can ensure like-to-like comparisons of previous terms used in the literature. The practical goal of this framework is to aid athletes, coaches, and support staff to gain a better understanding of how the different types of movement variability within sporting tasks contribute to performance. The framework may allow training methods to be tailored to optimise the specific aspects of movement variability that contribute to success. This review was retrospectively registered using the Open Science Framework (OSF) Registries (https://osf.io/q73fd).
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