Multiscale coordination between athletes: Complexity matching in ergometer rowing

Ruud J.R. Den Hartigh, Vivien Marmelat, Ralf F.A. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Complex systems applications in human movement sciences have increased our understanding of emergent coordination patterns between athletes. In the current study, we take a novel step and propose that movement coordination between athletes is a multiscale phenomenon. Specifically, we investigated so-called “complexity matching” of performance measured in the context of rowing. Sixteen rowers participated in two sessions on rowing ergometers: One individual session of 550 strokes and one dyadic session of 550 strokes side-by-side with a team member. We used evenly-spaced detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) to calculate the complexity indices (DFA exponents) of the force-peak interval series for each rower in each session. The DFA exponents between team members were uncorrelated in the individual sessions (r = 0.06), but were strongly and significantly correlated when team members rowed together (r = 0.87). Furthermore, we found that complexity matching could not be attributed to the rowers mimicking or locally adapting to each other. These findings contribute to the current theoretical understanding of coordination dynamics in sports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Movement Science
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Complex systems
  • Coordination dynamics
  • Detrended fluctuation analysis
  • Pink noise
  • Team sports
  • Time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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