On the search for reliable performance indicators in game sports

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This article addresses the reliability of performance indicators in game sports. In this context, reliability is invariably treated from a technical point of view as a question of observer agreement i.e. high levels of agreement between observations. That the measurement process itself should yield reliable data, as defined, for sports performance is given. Our considerations of reliability, however, extend from the process of measurement to include the trait (i.e., the performance) being measured. From these considerations, we present the argument that the performance traits, as measured, are inherently unstable and that the performance indicators are therefore necessarily unreliable (or unstable). In this light, the ongoing search for reliable (or stable) measures of sports performance indicators is questioned. Instead, alternative approaches for performance analysis are offered that recognise the dynamic interactions that characterise game sports as key features of sport performance. This notion of dynamic interactions is compatible with sporting experiences and the way that sports practitioners think about sports performance. We conclude that performance analysis for purposes of theoretical advancement should make use of mathematical modelling and simulation techniques, and that performance analysis for practical purposes should include qualitative research methods to arrive at the necessary inferences for sports practice.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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