Saturday 26th of January 2019, Amsterdam

Indoor Hockey: Hurley, boys B5, Luuk Scheers and team

The hockey stick

In hockey, the stick becomes an extension of the self. The stick has “ceased to be an object for the player, and is no longer perceived for itself; its point has become an area of sensitivity, extending the scope and active radius of touch” (Merleau-Ponty, 1968, 143).  Rather than thinking about the  stick , “it is more accurate to suggest that the players think from the point of view of the stick, and consequently also perceive our environment in a different way” (Reynolds 2004, 17).

Look at the next quote of Gregory Bateson (who used the example of a blind man’s stick) in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, how this is as much true for the hockey player:  
‘ Consider a man with a stick. Where does the self begin? At the tip of the stick? At the handle of the stick? Or at some point halfway up the stick? These questions are nonsense, because the stick is a pathway along which differences are transmitted under transformation, so that to draw a delimiting line across this pathway is to cut off a part of the systemic circuit which determines the blind man’s locomotion’.

Malafouris adds to this: ‘I believe this example provides one of the best diachronic exemplars of what I call the gray zone of material engagement, i.e., the zone in which brains, bodies, and things conflate, mutually catalyzing and constituting one another. Mind, as the anthropologist Gregory Bateson pointed out, “is not limited by the skin,” and that is why Bateson was able to recognize the stick as a “pathway” instead of a boundary’ (



  • the players ‘on the bench’ are physically engaged in the game, see  their shared attention
  • synchronisation of body movements – specifically in duo’s (attacker and defender)- sometimes mirrored, sometimes not. At some moments an almost perfect synchronisation is reached, at other moments it is more chaotic and less synchronised. 
  • mirrored synchronisation: this specifically happens when the ball is in-between two players
  • point of attention is located at the ball (as a moving target); the players adapt their bodies accordingly (an example of triadic attention)
  • even the referee is synchronising his movements with the hockey players

Volleyball: KvA, boys A1, Jochem van der Valk and team


  • synchronisation of blocking the ball in duo’s;
  • full bodily engagement;
  • ball is the locus of attention;
  • preparatory movements (anticipation of the body, bring ing the body in the right position with respect to the moving ball and the other players in the field);
  • example of smashing: body is completely aligned with the ball;
  • expression of faces (controlled or non-controlled?);
  •  the local participatory sense-making is dynamically created;
  • team coordination depends on the team’s collective attunement to shared affordances (Araújo and Bourbousson, 2016)

‘Through practice, players become perceptually attuned to affordances of others and affordances for others during competitive performance, and re ne their actions by adjusting behaviours to functionally adapt to those of other teammates and opponents.This process enables them to act synergistically with respect to specific teamgoals. An important feature of a synergy is the ability of one of its components (e.g. a player) to lead changes in others. The decisions and actions of players forming a synergy should not be viewed as independent, and can explain how multiple players act in accordance with dynamic performance environments in fractions of a second’ (Araújo and Bourbousson, 2016, p.134).

Volleyball: KvA, girls KVA7, Lisa Scheers and team


This for me is more of a dramatic performance. It reminds me of theatre, not only in the expressiveness of the body, but also in its messiness and chaos.  Every-one is engaged, in their own way, and independently of one another. However, they still form a group, they belong together, they share the same goal.