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Reflecting on the past to improve the future: introducing ‘action after reviews’ into sport
  1. Stephen Mutch1,2,
  2. Alan McCall3,4,
  3. Adrian Wolfberg5
  1. 1 Medical Department, Irish Rugby Football Union, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Physiotherapy Performance Department, Project Physio, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Performance and Research team, Arsenal Football Club, London, UK
  4. 4 Research & Development, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5 Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Stephen Mutch, Irish Rugby Football Union, Dublin, 4, Ireland; smutch99{at}

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The challenge of high-quality decision making in the high-pressured, elite sports environment

In the high-pressured professional sport arena, the health and performance support team (ie, medical, physiotherapy, sport science, strength and conditioning, clinical psychology and nutrition) needs to make high quality yet often quick decisions. These often involve recommendations regarding factors impacting injury and illness management, availability and performance of athletes.

Such recommendations are critical to players, coaches and team leadership as they can influence team performance. Making a high-quality decision under time pressures and with uncertainties and ambiguities is challenging, especially when trying to consider all relevant information while stepping back from potential emotions surrounding the decision. Decision making is influenced by several contextual components including (but not limited to) human factors, organisational challenges and cognitive understanding. In the presence of uncertainties and ambiguities, swift decisions can be clouded by misunderstandings or misinterpretations between the people making them. In contrast, high-quality decisions are informed by structured frameworks, transparency in reasoning, acknowledgement of assumptions and a bias towards action.

Strategies to improve decision making under pressure

Health and performance support team practitioners …

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  • Twitter @Spaceclinics, @Alan_McCall_

  • Contributors SM conceived the idea developed from an original concept written by AW. AM reviewed the initial manuscript with AW providing input. SM, AM and AW reviewed the drafts until the final version was submitted.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.