Technique analysis in sports: a critical review

J Sports Sci. 2002 Oct;20(10):813-28. doi: 10.1080/026404102320675657.


This paper critically reviews technique analysis as an analytical method used within sports biomechanics as a part of performance analysis. The concept of technique as 'a specific sequence of movements' appears to be well established in the literature, but the concept of technique analysis is less well developed. Although several descriptive and analytical goals for technique analysis can be identified, the main justification given for its use is to aid in the improvement of performance. However, the conceptual framework underpinning this process is poorly developed with a lack of distinction between technique and performance. The methods of technique analysis have been divided into qualitative, quantitative and predictive components. Qualitative technique analysis is characterized by observation and subjective judgement. Several aids to observation are identified, including phase analysis, temporal analysis and critical feature analysis. Although biomechanical principles of movement can be used to form judgements about technique, little agreement exists about the number and categories of these principles. A 'deterministic' model can be used to identify factors that affect performance but, in doing so, technique variables are frequently overlooked. Quantitative technique analysis relies on biomechanical data collection methods. The identification of key technique variables that affect performance is a major issue, but these are poorly distinguished from other variables that affect performance. Quantitative analysis is not suitable for establishing the characteristics of the whole skill, but new methods, such as the use of artificial neural networks, are described that may be able to overcome this limitation. Other methods based on modelling and computer simulation also have potential for focusing on the whole skill. Predictive technique analysis encompasses these developments and offers an attractive interface between the scientist and coach through visual animation methods. I conclude that biomechanists need to clarify the underpinning rationale, framework and scope for the various approaches to technique analysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills
  • Movement
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*