chapter  16
Co-ordination and control of kicking in soccer
Pages 15

Soccer is a dynamic ball game in which, typically, a high proportion of players’ time is spent attempting to bring about controlled collisions with a moving ball in order to impart an appropriate amount of force, for example, when passing or shooting over long and short distances on the field (Andersen, Dorge and Thomsen, 1999). Consequently, many of the important skills to master are interceptive actions such as kicking with the lower limb, heading or catching/punching the ball (in the case of the goalkeeper). The most widely used (and studied) soccer skill is that of kicking. The scientific sub-discipline of biomechanics has been used to help us to understand the mechanical forces involved, and the kinematics of motion in players differing in age and skill level (e.g. see Wickstrom, 1975; Hatzitaki, 1999; Barfield, 1998; Lees and Nolan, 1998). However, only recently has it been argued that theoretical frameworks from the sub-discipline of motor control need to be linked to biomechanical analyses in order to increase insight into processes of coordination and control of movements such as kicking (Sparrow, 1992). A particularly pertinent framework is dynamical systems theory which is relevant to the study of processes of movement co-ordination and control because of its emphasis on how the movement system degrees of freedom become assembled into functional synergies to achieve task goals such as intercepting moving projectiles (see Davids, Lees and Burwitz, 2000).