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New England Complex Systems Institute
238 Main Street Suite 319, Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone: 617-547-4100 Fax: 617-661-7711

Team sports provide a great opportunity to learn, think about, and apply complex systems concepts and methods. Understanding how individuals form effective teams has all the features of other complex systems: interactions, patterns of behavior and the dynamics of evolutionary selection over generations leading to improvements in team effectiveness. The successful teams in different sports can teach us a lot about the effective ways of creating collective behavior under various constraints imposed by the rules of the game. Because the players, sports writers, comentators, and coaches (who have particular responsibility to develop effective collective behaviors), are human beings with great insight into how the games should be played, they may also be consciously aware of key complex systems concepts.


L. Vilar, D. Araújo, K. Davids, Y. Bar-Yam, Science of Winning Soccer: Emergent pattern-forming dynamics in association football. Journal of Systems Science and Complexity (in press). [PDF]

Y. Bar-Yam, Competition and Cooperation, from Making Things Work, Chapter 7. Knowledge Press, 2005.

Y. Bar-Yam, Complex Systems and Sports: Complex Systems insights to building effective teams. [PDF]

Y. Bar-Yam, Applications of Complex Systems: Sports and Complexity, 2000.

Right photo © Jalon Nichols