Mov Sport Sci/Sci Mot
Number 115, 2022
Page(s) 33 - 42
Published online 11 January 2022

© ACAPS, 2022

1 Introduction

1.1 The stimuli selection in the decision-making process

Coaches’ behaviours during a competition represent an important factor influencing global performance (Kennedy & Knight, 2017). However, the visible behaviours are the final part of a more complex cognitive process, in other words, the decision-making process. But there is no unanimous consensus regarding the details and the mechanisms of this invisible element within the scientific community. Cognitivism assumes that the brain collects various information from the context before interpreting it through mnemonic systems, while naturalism argues that the decision is not a rational process but has to be taken as a dimension influenced by the entire evolving activity of the subject (Macquet & Fleurance, 2006). Some models focused on players’ decision-making arise from the naturalism for example, the “Recognition-primed decision” (Klein, 2008) or the “Tactical decision-making for rugby players” designed by Mouchet (2005).

However, there is one point in common between decision making models or paradigms: the stimuli selection in the natural environment as a key part of the process. Therefore, the analysis of the coaches’ observations in a context as close as possible to the reality seems essential for understanding how they make their decisions (Araújo, Hristovski, Seifert, Carvalho, & Davids, 2019).

1.2 The methods for analysing the observation

It seems impossible to collect all the information when studying an invisible element such as the stimuli selection due to the unconscious aspect of the phenomenon and the difficulty of obtaining access to the mnemonic system. Nevertheless, some methods have been proposed in the literature to collect information after the subject’s actions.

The explicitation interview is described by Mouchet, Morgan, & Thomas (2018) as a method intended for obtaining access to the subject’s subjective point of view. It was developed by Vermersch (2019) to bring the unreachable reflective elements to the reflective consciousness. In practice, the interviewer tries to mention some details from a former experience to enable the subject to relive the action.

The stimulated recall is another technique. There is no really well-defined protocol because the details of the implementation differ, depending of the published papers and situations (Clark & Peterson, 1986). The general procedure consists of asking the subject to watch the video of one of his/her activities and to comment on specific events such as decisions taken during the game. The method was notably used by Turnnidge & Côté (2019) to study coaching leadership in football and volleyball.

These two methods have even been combined into a complex protocol. In 2013, Mouchet (2013) combined them to analyse the attentional phenomena of rugby players. However, even when combined, these methods do not allow the analysis of the process directly in the natural environment but use the subject’s memory as working base. Therefore, the results could be more or less distorted due to the time delay between the action and the data collection.

1.3 The use of new technologies

Virtual reality (VR) can be defined as a computer simulation of an environment giving the impression of being mentally or physically present at another place and allowing interaction with the context (Sherman & Craig, 2018). In sport, this technology has been notably used with success to train football goalkeepers on a psychological level (Stinson & Bowman, 2014). In this study, the authors wanted to investigate the possibility for a VR system to trigger anxiety and to be a tool for resilience training. They created a virtual room in which the goalkeepers were able to respond to virtual penalty kicks. The physiological information of the participants revealed that anxiety increased with the VR training. Nevertheless, the main limit of this study is that the authors were not able to determine if a long-term training in VR task allowed a real improvement of the anxiety level on the field. In another sport, Vignais, Kulpa, Brault, Presse, & Bideau (2015) aimed to compare the video and the VR for the analysing of visual perception with handball goalkeepers. The participants had to anticipate the trajectory of the ball throwed by a player by looking a classic video and a virtual animation. The results revealed that goalkeepers predicted more correct zones and were faster to intercept the ball in VR situation. The authors suggested that goalkeepers needed more time to get visual information in front of a video-recording than in front of virtual animation. Once again, this study did not analyse the impact of training on skills acquisition on the field. But, beyond this aspect of transfer between VR training and improvement in reality, those studies revealed that the VR environment can be precise enough to create feelings close to the reality and to allow a faster information gathering than with a classic video. Considering that, we may think that the analysis of the stimuli in a VR task could be possible directly in a context close to the reality. It could resolve the problem of the time delay between the action and the interview that is present in the explicitation interview or stimulated recall methods.

Another method close to the virtual reality is the immersion into a 3D environment. In this case, the environment is not created by computer treatment contrary to VR. The context comes directly from a video recorded with a 360° camera before being projected around a subject. This difference in term of creation of the environment involves two main differences between the two methods:

  • first, 3D does not allow movement and interaction with the context. When the programming of the VR environment allows the users to move, jump, throw or shoot like in a video-game, the 3D is just a projection of a video-recording with an unchanging scenario around the users. In fact, the users look at a movie but are projected at the middle of the action;

  • second, the texture of the environment is closer to the real situation in 3D than in VR. As mentioned in the name of the technology, the environment is virtual in VR. The elements of the context look like a video game. In 3D, there is a projection of a high-definition recording. Which means that the objects as well as the bodies and faces of people are looking exactly like in reality.

Therefore, those two methods seem to be useful in the behaviour analysis but for different purposes. When the aim is to analyse the interaction of a user with the environment like his capacity to stop a shoot (Stinson & Bowman, 2014; Vignais et al., 2015), the VR seems more appropriate. But in the case of the analysis of the stimuli selection and the observation in a specific environment, the high level of reality provided by the 3D could be a better option.

1.4 User’s experience model

To establish the usability of the 3D environment, some factors defining the experience of the subject with the device have to be analysed. Unfortunately, there is no paper in the literature treating about such specific criteria for 3D environment. Therefore, it seems essential to extend the search field to similar and wider domain as VR environment. For example, Shin (2018) analysed the link between presence, flow, empathy and embodiment during VR experience and Riches, Elghany, Garety, Rus-Calafell, & Valmaggia (2019) pointed out factors affecting sense of presence during VR immersion. In a modelling perspective, Tcha-Tokey, Christmann, Loup-Escande, Loup, & Richir (2018) identified some parameters and the interaction between those elements and created the UXIVE model (User eXperience in Immersive Virtual Environment). To create this model, 152 participants had to complete a virtual task where they had to shoot bullets on enemies. Some measures as the time taken in the task, the score and the level reached, and the results of an experience questionnaire completed after the task were analysed using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). Those results revealed correlations between different components of the users’ experience. Since his publication, this model has been frequently used as a reference or a base in researches treating about experience in VR (Somrak, Pogačnik, & Guna, 2021; Vergari et al., 2021). Even more, Souchet et al. (2020) told that this model “achieved recent progress for learning purposes” (p. 5). Unfortunately, it is not possible to exactly transpose it for a 3D environment, notably because of the lack of interaction, but several components seem anyway appropriate: the immersion (Bowman & McMahan, 2007), the flow (Cheng, Chieng, & Chieng, 2014), the emotion (Geslin, Bouchard, & Richir, 2011), the judgment (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018), and the experience consequences (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018).

2 Purposes of the study

The primary aim of the study is to characterize the experience of volleyball coaches immerged in a 3D volleyball game to see if it could be a credible tool to use in a coaching training program. To reach that goal, we define secondary objectives: the first is to set up the 3D device, and the second is to analyse the volleyball coaches’ experience in assessing it.

3 Methods

3.1 Sample

Our sample is comprised of 17 volleyball coaches (16 men) with a mean age of 50.2 years (SD: 10.8; min: 29; max: 64). Each subject has a coach’s license issued by the Fédération Volleyball Wallonie-Bruxelles (French-speaking part of Belgium). All of them played and trained at different levels of competition. The recruitment was done through an electronic newsletter. We obtained 35 agreements from 439 emails and retained 17 participants (18 dropped out before the project was launched).

4 3D device development

The researchers planned two game simulations with players (one women game and one men game) of an intermediate level. For each of them, they created the conditions similar to those of an official championship game: presence of a referee, officials, score board, etc. The camera video recorder (Nikon KeyMission 360) was located at the three-metre line at 1.75 m from the side line. The players competed during three sets. After that, the researchers cut three sequences of 15–20 minutes (one warm-up sequence and two game sequences) with the software “Sony Vegas”. This duration was selected to avoid cybersickness. In the final step, the immersion of the coaches was made with a computer “ASUS HE6VLQR” and a VR headset “Oculus Rift”. The videos were played with the “Skybox VR player” and the records of the immersion experiences were made with the software “OBS Studio”. This program allowed us to see and hear a coach in parallel with what he was looking at during the immersion (Fig. 1).

thumbnail Figure 1

View of OBS Studio record.

4.1 Meetings with coaches

Each of the 17 coaches participated in an individual seminar in a quiet office. Those seminars lasted from 1.5 to 2 hours. For more connexions to the reality, coaches were immerged with the type public with which they had the higher experience (women or men games). Globally, the video allowed the coach to stay virtually at the place of the camera as if he or she were the coach of one of the two teams. The coaches were able to look at the elements of the environment but motion was not possible. Table 1 resumes the different steps of the meeting.

Table 1

Steps of the meetings.

4.2 Perceptions’ questionnaire

At the end of the protocol, the coaches had to fill in a questionnaire focusing on their feelings during the experience. To create this survey, we adapted an instrument validated by Tcha-Tokey, Loup-Escande, Christmann, & Richir (2016) and based on the UXIVE model (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018). This questionnaire was based on nine other existing questionnaires (PQ, ITQ, EduFlow2, CSE, AEQ, SUS, UTAUT, AttracDiff, SSQ) and had an acceptable internal consistency for each dimension used in this study (Cronbach’s α > 0.7). However, as the questionnaire concerned the users’ experience in a VR environment, we had to adapt it for a 3D one. It consisted of deleting items concerning interactions between the subject and the context as well as the capacity to use the technology independently. Our final questionnaire (Appendix A) contains 33 items designed to score on a scale from 1 to 10 the immersion, flow, positive emotions, negative emotions, judgement and experience consequences. It also contains three open-ended questions concerning the identification of advantages and disadvantages of the device and the aspects to improve.

4.3 Data processing

The modification of the original questionnaire required to investigate the internal consistency of the adapted questionnaire. The Cronbach’s alpha score was calculated for each users’ experience dimension.

After the data collection, a global mean score (/10) was calculated with the items in each dimension. This way of treatment was used by Tcha-Tokey, Loup-Escande, Christmann, & Richir (2017) to get the scores of users’ experience factors. As the scores did not follow a normal distribution, we also used the nonparametric Mann-Whitney test to analyse the difference in quality experience depending on two parameters: the age and the wearing of glasses. But as these relations were not statistically significant, they will not be presented in the results part. With the open-ended questions, researchers conducted an inductive content analysis to identify categories of answers. The answers were classified in the categories according to the filing system by two researchers separately and the interobserver reliability (Bellack formula) reached 92% of agreement.

5 Results

5.1 Internal consistency

Cronbach’s alpha scores shows positive results. Among the six subscales, five have an acceptable reliability over 0.70 (immersion, flow, positive emotions, judgment and experience consequences). The sixth (negative emotions) have not been calculated because of the number of items (2) who was too small to calculate a construct. According to these values, we consider that the internal consistency of the questionnaire is globally acceptable.

5.2 Items’ scores

Table 2 shows the global mean scores (/10) and the standard deviation (SD) for the users’ experience parameters.

Four out of six dimensions have a global average higher than 5/10 (immersion, flow, positive emotions and judgment) when the negative emotions and consequences dimensions seem relatively weak, meaning a relatively good perception of the experience.

Table 2

Scores for the users’ experience parameters (/10).

5.3 Open-ended questions

For each question, subjects were asked to provide up to five proposals. These ones were analysed to create inductive categories. In this section, we present the number of coaches who proposed at least one content element belonging to each category (Fig. 2). For the advantages of the device, six categories of content elements were created. Each coach offered one to five answers (mean: 2.47/coach; SD: 1.33), and we collected a total of 42 content elements. Fewer answers were collected concerning the negative aspects of the experience (n = 36; mean: 2.12/coach; SD: 1.27; min: 0; max: 4). They were classified into eight categories. Finally, only 20 proposals were collected regarding possible ways to improve the experience (mean: 1.18/coach; SD: 0.95; min: 0; max: 3). Four categories were created.

Almost six coaches out of 10 mention the innovation and originality of the device as a positive point. The immersion category is proposed by a little more than a third of the sample. Pleasure, perspective (learning, scouting, etc.), unusual context and context simulation is cited less frequently. Nearly one out of two coaches cite the lack of interaction as a negative point. Sharpness and comfort are pointed out by almost a fourth of the subjects, while less than a fifth point out some lack of naturalness. Increasing the texture quality and finding a way to interact with players are proposed by almost a third of the sample. Adapting the position of the camera appears in three questionnaires, while offering the opportunity to see one’s own gestures is proposed by one coach.

thumbnail Figure 2

Advantages, disadvantages and proposals to improve the experience.

6 Discussion

At first glance, the analysis of the users’ experience dimensions offers some positive results as the immersion, flow, positive emotions, and judgment have a mean score higher than 5/10, whereas negative emotions and consequences have a mean score lower than 5/10. The comparison of the results with the literature is quite difficult for two reasons. First of all, if there are a lot of papers talking about VR environment, there is a gap concerning the analyse of 3D environment characteristics especially in the sport coaching domain. Second of all, the values obtained in this study with a modified questionnaire are not necessarily comparable with scores obtained with other methods. We are conscious that even if the innovation of the subject is also his strength, it makes the integration of this paper into the literature difficult. That is why we will have to explore wider domains than 3D environment in this section, such as VR domain.

To begin, the immersion mean score can be considered as an interesting score for a 3D device. Indeed, based on Slater & Wilbur’s work (1997), who reviewed the concepts of immersion and presence in VR in a Framework for Immersive Virtual Environments (FIVE), the immersion is the capacity of the device to create an illusion of reality. Those authors explained that some important elements influence the quality of immersion. When comparing with the 3D device, it is easier to see that some of them are totally or partially missing: reproduction of the body movement, self-representation of the virtual body, interaction and response of the virtual actors. Therefore, how can we explain that the score is above the average? First, the 3D device has some characteristics also mentioned by Slater & Wilbur (1997): proprioceptive feedback of the head (when the head turns in reality, the view changes in the 3D environment) and the autonomy of the actors in the environment. Second, the UXIVE model (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018) shows that the immersion is influenced by the engagement, that is “a psychological state of interest and energy on a set of stimuli, activities or particular events” (Witmer & Singer, 1998). As the 3D environment texture is more comparable to reality than a VR environment, the concentration on the context stimuli and thus the engagement in the environment may be easier. Moreover, the scenario proposed to the coach at the beginning of the experience has been implemented to have a positive impact on this engagement. In conclusion, the lack of some specific VR elements seems to prevent a better immersion score in the 3D device, but he is relatively positive which means that the users were really well immerged in the environment. This statement is also strengthened by the answers to the open-ended question. It seems to be a crucial positive element for a future application of the 3D device in coaching training program as some studies showed a correlation between this VR learning experience parameter and the learning outcomes in several domains: crime scene investigation (Makransky & Lilleholt, 2018), medical genetics work (Makransky & Petersen, 2019)…

Concerning the flow, the mean score is just above the average. It could seem to be a relatively weak score but we did not expect a high value for this parameter. Indeed, Sweetser & Wyeth (2005) defined the flow as an enjoyable mental state with sense of control and engagement in the environment. As a reminder, we were conscious that the use of a 3D device will not allow the user to have a high level of control on the environment. He was not able to interact with objects or people, to complete some objectives, to influence the context, etc. The literature clearly points out the correlation between level of flow experience and interaction with the environment (totally missing in 3D environment). For example, Csíkszentmihályi, Aduhamdeh & Nakamura (2014) suggested that the immediate feedback from the environment was one of the conditions to meet flow experience. Moreover, in the UXIVE model, the flow is notably influenced by the skill defined as having the know-how to control the activity in the VR environment (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018). In the eight-channel model of flow experience, Ellis, Voelkl, & Morris (1994) explained that the flow experience depends on the skill levels of the subject and the situational challenge of the environment. But despite all those elements, how can we explain that the score is above the average? Once again, we implemented a scenario to improve the engagement of the users and we asked them to speak directly to the players during the timeouts. Nevertheless, we do not think that those elements were sufficient to bring a good feeling of flow. Although the scenario can give the subject a challenge at the beginning, the lack of response from the players certainly decreases skill and interaction perception. Moreover, the lack of interaction is mentioned by nearly one out of two participants as a negative point in the open-ended questions. Therefore, we have to be careful with this score. Contrary to the high level of immersion that makes us confident for the implementation of a 3D device in a coaching training program, it is important to keep in mind that the use of this device should be limited to the observation of the action rather than an education to actions on the field.

The judgment is the global opinion of the user about the environment (Tcha-Tokey et al., 2018). All subjects seem to appreciate the environment despite some suggestions proposed about improving the camera position and the texture quality. According to Hassenzahl & Ullrich (2007), aesthetic judgment and value judgment are part of the global judgment. The analysis of the open-ended questions according to these two subdivisions seems to confirm the high global judgment score. In terms of aesthetic judgment, only four coaches mention sharpness as a disadvantage when in terms of value judgment, ten coaches point out the innovation and originality as a positive point. A great score of judgment is important in the perspective of the implementation of the device into a coaching training program. According to the self-determination theory, the perception of the value of a task is a determinant of the motivation to remain involve in it (Gagné & Deci, 2005).

The experience consequences (headache, stress, sickness, etc.) seem really weak. No case of cybersickness have been reported even if it is a well-known problem that can occur with a headset (Rebenitsch & Owen, 2016). The analysis of the disadvantages with the open-ended questions reveals that no trainer mentioned gastrointestinal problem (nausea, stomach awareness…), central problem (fainting, dizziness…), peripheral problem (sweating, feeling hot…) or sopite-related problem (irritation, tiredness…) which are the four clusters containing the main symptoms of the cybersickness according to Gianaros, Muth, Mordkoff, Levine, & Stern (2001). Several factors could explain it. First, few rest periods have been planned in the protocol to avoid this consequence. Second, some potential causal factors of the mechanism of cybersickness have been identified in the literature and could be specific to VR unlike the 3D. Among the most important ones, we can talk about the conflict between visual and vestibular senses (Keshavarz, Riecke, Hettinger, & Campos, 2015). Evidences from neurophysiology (Oman & Cullen, 2014) support this conflict between the perception of self-motion by the visual system due to the movement in the virtual environment and the contradictory signals sent by the vestibular system who does not capture any movement. The huge advantage of the 3D environment device in relation with the cybersickness is the absence of body motion in the headset as the 360° camera was standing still during the recording. The subject can only turn the head to look around him. In this way, there is no contradiction between visual and vestibular perceptions. This is a huge advantage of the device in the perspective of its utilization with a higher number of users.

Contrary to the original questionnaire, we divided positive and negative emotions because our aim was not to assess the subject’s global level of feelings but to know whether positive emotions were higher than negative. The balance between these two types of emotions predicts the judgment of subjective well-being for a person (Diener et al., 1991). With the 3D device, we can emphasize that coaches felt clearly more positive than negative emotions and that the balance of well-being seems to tip to the well-being side. As for the judgment parameter, the well-being and enjoyment felt during a task is directly correlated with the involvement of a participant in it, according to the intrinsic motivation concept (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Thus, the fact that coaches felt more positive than negative emotions during the experience is once again encouraging for a future implementation of the device in a coaching training program.

Despite the results indicating globally positive feelings for the users of the 3D device, we must remain cautious due to some limitations. First of all, the absence of this type of study and specific tools for 3D forces us to use a modified validated questionnaire for VR. Although several questionnaire exist to measure different parameters of the user’s experience (Georgiou & Kyza, 2017; Hagiwara et al., 2016; Witmer & Singer, 1998) or other methods like the analysis of physiological parameters (Riva, Davide, & Ijsselsteijn, 2003; Wiederhold et al., 2001), we decided to choose a recent questionnaire analysing different parameters and based on a validated model of the user’s experience. The second limitation is the number of subjects and the values of the standard deviations. Even if the scores correspond to the answers of the open-ended questions and are in majority in-line with the literature, a bigger sample would have limited the bias due to the outliers responses.

In conclusion, the global perceptions of the subjects seem to be positive and give some reasons to be optimistic for the application of the device in coaching education. Nevertheless, the lack of interaction and control on the activity points out the necessity to use the tool for a training at the observation rather than an education to the intervention in the environment. To our knowledge, this is the first study treating about the implementation of a 3D environment in sport coaching context. The results suggest that this research subject is credible and has to be explore to fill a gap in the sport literature. In addition to more important investigations to confirm or deny the results obtained in this study, the use of 3D device with volleyball coaches seems to lead to some research opportunities. Among many others, we can mention the analysis of coaches’ observations during the game in close to reality context, the analysis of the selection of the content of feedback during the time-out compared with the reflections of the coach during the game, or the implementation of a coaches training program based on the quality of the observations and the decision making during the game.

Author contribution statement

All the authors discussed and created the protocol together. First and second authors have created the device, implemented the protocol with the coaches and analyzed the results. To conclude, first and third authors have written the article and have made the modifications.

Appendix A User’s experience questionnaire: list of items


1. I was feeling stimulated by the environment.

2. Sometimes I was so absorbed by the environment that I was not aware of the things happening around me.

3. Sometimes I was so absorbed by the environment that I had the feeling of being inside the game instead of looking at a screen.

4. Physically, I was feeling good in the environment.

5. Sometimes I was so absorbed by the environment that I lost the sense of time.


6. The time seemed to be running out in a different way compared to the usual.

7. I had the impression that the time was quickly running out.

8. I was losing the sense of time.

9. I was not concerned about what others thought of me.

10. I had the feeling of living in an exciting time.

11. This experience in the environment gave me many feelings of well-being.

12. When I mention this experience in the environment, I feel an emotion that I want to share with others.

Positive emotions

13. I have appreciated being in this environment.

14. It was so exciting that I could stay in this environment for many hours.

15. I have appreciated the experience to the point that I feel full of energy.

Negative emotions

16. I was feeling nervous in the environment.

17. I have wanted to distract myself to reduce my anxiety.


18. Personally, I would say that this environment is practical.

19. Personally, I would say that this environment is clear.

20. I have found this environment exciting.

21. I have found the environment professional.

22. I have found this environment tasteful.

23. I have found this environment presentable.

24. I have found this environment beautiful.


25. I have found this environment pleasant.

26. I have found myself tired during my interactions with the environment.

27. I have felt headache during my interactions with the environment.

28. I have felt eye strain during my interactions with the environment.

29. I have noticed an improvement in my salivation during my interactions with the environment.

30. I had nausea in the environment.

31. I have felt heaviness in my head during my interactions with the environment.

32. I have felt stunned when I opened my eyes during my interactions with the environment.

33. I have felt dizzy during my interactions with the environment.

Open-ended questions

34. In your view, what were the positive points of your experience?

35. In your view, what were the negative points of your experience?

36. Do you have suggestions to improve the environment?


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Cite this article as: Lombard G, Dejong B, Mouton A, & Cloes M (2022) Evaluation of the volleyball coaches’ experience in a 3-dimensions environment. Mov Sport Sci/Sci Mot, 115, 33–42

All Tables

Table 1

Steps of the meetings.

Table 2

Scores for the users’ experience parameters (/10).

All Figures

thumbnail Figure 1

View of OBS Studio record.

In the text
thumbnail Figure 2

Advantages, disadvantages and proposals to improve the experience.

In the text

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