Interview with Professor Keith Davids

Interview with Professor Keith Davids

I am very proud to present the email interview I had with Professor Keith Davids, the leading researcher in the motor control and learning field, author of couple of books and the professor at the School of Human Movement Studies at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

I would like to thank Professor Davids for his time and good will to do this interview in spite of his working obligations. Writings by Professor Davids were and still continue to be very influential on my coaching knowledge and philosophy. I hope that this interview will bring  more food for thought for the coaches and athletes that follow Complementary Training blog. Enjoy!



MJ:  It is my real pleasure to have you here on this blog Professor Davids. Can you please share with the readers your background, and how you came to become one of the leading researchers in the motor control and learning field?

KD:  Thanks for the invitation Mladen and it’s a pleasure to share these ideas with you. First, a little information on my background. I went to St Mary’s College in Twickenham (part of London University then) in the early 1970s and quickly realized that I enjoyed the theoretical basis of Physical Education, especially skill acquisition and motor learning. After teaching for a couple of years in West London, I started a PhD at Leeds University in the UK and eventually made my way into University teaching.

My research career started to take off when I joined the staff of Liverpool John Moores University (known as Liverpool Polytechnic then) in the mid 1980s. There I did what most solid academics do: teach, conduct research, publish papers etc. When I joined Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in the early 1990s, my research interests were mostly theoretical and I was lucky enough to work with some excellent PhD students such as Mark Williams, Simon Bennett, Chris Button, Craig Handford, Saleh Al-Abood and Derek Ashford. Our work was mainly in the ecological dynamics area looking at motor control, but there was growing interest from physical educators, pedagogues and coaches and sport scientists. Due to my background in Physical Education I maintained a focus on application of theoretical ideas in sports teaching and coaching. It was there that the first seeds of the constraints-led approach to skill acquisition emerged.

By 2002 my wife Anna and I had 3 young children and we moved abroad to the city of Dunedin in New Zealand’s south island to work at the University of Otago. There the application of a constraints-led approach in a nonlinear pedagogy emerged with more outstanding PhD students including Jia Yi Chow and Robert Rein. Finally, we have ended up in Brisbane Australia where there I am working at Queensland University of Technology. I have excellent relationships with the skill acquisition researchers at the Australian Institute of Sport, especially Rick Shuttleworth, and with the Queensland Academy of Sport. I have around 20 PG students working on various skill acquisition projects, including a number with my colleagues (and ex-PhD students) Duarte Araujo and Pedro Passos at the Technical University of Lisbon. My view is that collaborations are the key to productive applied science research on sport performance.


MJ: Can you please provide us a short summary of constraints-led approach and non-linear pedagogy and the way they influence contemporary coaching, physical therapy and P.E. practices? 

I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grew up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »