Sync or Separate? No Compelling Evidence for Unintentional Interpersonal Coordination Between Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay on the 100-Meter World Record Race

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Abstract

In a recent observation article in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (JEP:HPP; Varlet & Richardson, 2015) the 100-m sprint final of the World Championship in Athletics in Berlin of 2009 (i.e., the current world record race) was analyzed. That study reported occurrence of spontaneous, unintentional interpersonal synchronization between Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, the respective winner and runner-up of that race. In the present commentary article, however, we argue that the results and conclusion of that study cannot be warranted because of methodological shortcomings. We addressed the same research question and reassessed the same race using an alternative data analysis method. These results revealed that as yet there is no sufficient ground to conclude that in the 100-m world record race synchronization occurred between Bolt and Gay. Yet, our reanalysis suggested that even at this very elite level the individual movement frequencies did seem to vary to such an extent that synchronization would theoretically still be possible, thereby providing incentives for further examination of potential unintentional synchronization in coactive sports.

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