Developing decision-making in rugby : a 152.786 (50 point) research report presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management at Massey University

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Massey University
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The purpose of the study was to examine how fifteen-year-old rugby players' perceive their ability to make decisions in game situations, after participating in a seven-week decision-based training intervention. Data was collected from six players, pre, during, and post the intervention using semi-structured interviews. Two further training sessions were provided six weeks post intervention to review content and skills and determine player retention of learning; a final interview was then also conducted. Content analysis of the descriptive data involved identifying the main concepts and then categorising them into common themes using NVivo (N6), a qualitative software programme. Video analysis of the player's games (early, mid and end of season matches) as well as analysis of a post intervention interview with the facilitator allowed methodological triangulation. Comparison of the main themes from the findings enhanced the data's trustworthiness, reliability (dependability) and validity (credibility and transferability). The findings showed that all six players who participated in the study developed some perception and motor skills (such as: peripheral vision; attention strategies; spatial and tactical awareness; and motor skills), and tactical sport specific knowledge (such as: functional roles as ball carrier, support player, and defender; understanding ofdefence patterns and positional play) similar to that of an expert player. The findings also showed that better intra-communications among the players were critical in their ability to make informed decisions. These findings, as a result of the intervention, suggest that deliberate and purposeful decision-based training may add-value to player decision-making on the rugby field as the players' knowledge representation and game understanding have improved. However, the ability of players to execute and demonstrate transfer of skills from intervention to games, varied among the players. Further research is needed in tracking and monitoring individual players and their ability to make effective decisions from intervention to games and from season to season.
Rugby football, Psychological aspects, Training