Negotiating Shot Selection in New Zealand Secondary School Boys' Basketball: A Case Study
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Competitive basketball teams around the world attempt more three-pointers than ever (Quealy & Hoffman, 2019; Wilco, 2019). The change in shot selection is rationally strategic and stems from an intensifying quantitative imperative (Baerg, 2015; Goldsberry, 2019). However, de-contextualised analyses do not include situational realities (Baerg, 2015; Hutchins, 2016). For this reason, the recent proliferation of data-driven quantitative analyses is limited as a tool for understanding collective and individual improvement in sport (Beer, 2015; Millington & Millington, 2015). In particular, current shot selection research neglects complex understandings of the teaching and learning process (Cushion, 2007; Lyle, 2018; Saury & Durand, 1998), including frameworks that link decision-making to coaching practice and the team environment (Jones & Wallace, 2005; Mouchet, 2005). Building upon complex notions of the coach-as-orchestrator (Jones & Ronglan, 2017) and athlete decision-making as emergent phenomena (Mouchet, 2005), this study re-framed shot selection as a negotiation between coaches, players and their environment. Using a qualitative and ethnographic case-study design, this study investigated how a secondary school senior boys’ basketball team in New Zealand negotiated shot selection over a competitive season. Through formative intervention methodology (Engeström & Sannino, 2011), the researcher partnered with the team to support improvements in decision-making, including shot selection. The outcomes of research were three case narratives that situated shot selection over three terms in the academic calendar. The case narratives depict a conscious reflective struggle with shot selection. In so doing, this study humanises the experience by highlighting the complex social and pedagogical realities of decision-making. Findings reveal the ways in which shot selection was linked to changes in offensive system design, an evolving training environment, contradictory goals between participants, the players’ embodied history and the confusion that arose when moving between different teams. Furthermore, the findings reinforce the need to manage complexity when coaching (Jones & Ronglan, 2017), including using game scenarios in training, making the implicit explicit, embracing conflict as a stimulus for growth, developing complex concepts, noticing to inform action and embracing complex sensibilities. This study enriches pedagogical theorising by linking movement behaviours and pedagogical decisions to the complex social realties of players, coaches and their local environments. In so doing, this research expands the boundaries of pedagogy research to include the broader problematic situation of the team.