Team Coordination in High-Risk Circus Acrobatics

Filho, Edson orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8548-4651 and Rettig, Jean (2018) Team Coordination in High-Risk Circus Acrobatics. Interaction Studies, 19 (3). ISSN 1572-0373

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To advance understanding of the mechanisms allowing for team coordination (TC) in complex motor actions, we conducted a qualitative study with eight elite hand-to-hand circus acrobats. Data collection consisted of field observations, an open-ended interview with the participants' head coach, and focus group interviews with all acrobats. Data analysis yielded three higher order themes: TC, collective efficacy (CE), and TC-CE linkage. Teammates' shared and complementary mental models, as well as implicit and explicit communication dynamics, emerged as formative sub-themes of TC; self- and other's-efficacy emerged as reflective sub-themes of CE. Our findings also suggest that TC is likely inter-related to CE in a systemic fashion. Practitioners should encourage the development of both shared and complementary models of thinking, while promoting verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Finally, increasing teammates' confidence in themselves and in their teammates can help in the development of CE as well as the enhancement of TC.

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