As a judoka with a background in sport science, strength and conditioning, and coaching, I have always been interested in approaches to training and coaching in judo. Working in higher education has allowed me develop this interest, and to research and write about aspects of judo training and coaching. In this post I will briefly introduce the judo research I have undertaken to date, and how I am applying some of the skills learnt to research in other settings.
Strength and conditioning for judo was the initial focus of my judo research. I was teaching on strength and conditioning modules and completing my MSc dissertation on variable resistance training, when a colleague offered me the opportunity to contribute to a chapter about strength and conditioning for combat sports. The chapter, in Advances in Strength and Conditioning Research, covers strength and conditioning programme design for three Olympic combat sports (boxing, judo, and taekwondo), and I was responsible for researching and writing the judo section. Following the book chapter we focused on strength and conditioning for judo, and published two articles in the Journal of Sports Therapy discussing the needs analysis of judo and judo-specific strength and conditioning methods.
Following these publications, my research interests began to move away from strength and conditioning, and towards aspects concerning coaching and skill acquisition in judo. Via a couple of false starts, this led to undertaking a PhD investigating the visual search strategies of judo coaches (i.e., where they look) when observing judo contests. Where individuals look can provide some indication of their attention when undertaking a task, and is established by measuring eye movements using eye-tracking equipment. Whilst recording eye movements in situ (i.e., where the task typically takes place) is often seen as the ideal, this is not always feasible, and this was the case with my research. Therefore, I recorded the coaches’ eye movements whilst they observed video footage of contests obtained (with permission) from an International Judo Federation Grand Prix tournament (see image below).
In 2016 I presented initial findings from my visual search strategy research at the European College of Sport Science Congress in Vienna, and in 2018 a paper with further findings was published. This paper identified that elite judo coaches possibly adopt an alternative visual search strategy to sub-elite judo coaches when observing contests, and suggested some potential avenues for further research based upon these findings.
Following submission of my PhD thesis over 18 months ago, and a successful viva voce examination of the thesis, I am continuing my research into judo coaches’ visual search strategies. Alongside this, I am now applying the eye tracking skills learnt during my PhD research to other areas including the visual search behaviour of young cyclists, and the affects of low vision on the completion of everyday tasks (e.g., hazard avoidance when walking).
In future posts I hope to expand upon my judo research and its implications, and to discuss other research in judo. I also hope to discuss eye tracking research in settings other than sport.