Sport Performance as a Domain of Creative Problem Solving for Self-Organizing Performer-Environment Systems

Robert Hristovski*, a, Keith Davids b, Pedro Passosc, Duarte Araujoc
a Faculty of Physical Culture, University of St. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia
b School of Human Movement Studies, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
c Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

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© 2012 Hristovski et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Physical Culture, University of St. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia; Tel: 38923113654; Fax: 38923117538; E-mail:


In this paper we discuss the role of nonlinear pedagogy in explaining and facilitating creative behaviors within the sport performance context. Some research results are also highlighted as examples of creative problem solving within sports such as martial arts and rugby union. Within the framework of nonlinear pedagogy, creative behaviors may occur as a consequence of a specific constellation of interacting constraints that impinge on the performer-environment system. The relaxation of constraints enhances the potential for exploratory behavior and enables greater fluency and flexibility, increasing the probability of discovering atypical functional solutions to a task goal. In the example of team games, we highlight that critical values of interpersonal distance in attacker-defender dyads define a region that affords high metasta-bility and reorganization of dyad actions. Here idiosyncratic performance solutions are created by immediate constraints of the system. Also, the performance context offered by the team is of utmost importance for creating possibilities for ac-tion at an individual level. In general we emphasize that analysis of the performer-environment system can provide a full account of the emergence of creative behaviors in sport performance contexts.

Keywords: Creativity in sport, nonlinear pedagogy, complex dynamic systems, performer-environment system, constraints, affordance, exploratory behavior.