Differences Between Expert and Novice Tennis Coaches’ Perceptual Capacities

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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The purpose of this study was to examine analytic perceptions of expert and novice tennis coaches. Four expert and four novice tennis coaches volunteered as study participants. Both a video analysis and a recall test provided data for this investigation. In the video analysis protocol, participants were asked to describe what they observed while viewing a 10-minute video of a tennis practice session. In the recall test, a series of 10 tennis related slides were viewed by each of the coaches. After viewing each slide for five seconds, the coaches were asked what they recalled from the slide. The completed written accounts from the video analysis and the recall test audiotapes were transcribed and served as the primary data. The researchers looked for recurring themes and categories using the generic qualitative study technique. Data analysis revealed six themes: (a) the quantity of cues perceived, (b) attention to critical features, (c) analytic depth, (d) recognizing meaningful patterns, (e) anticipating the future, and (f) from description to prescription. These findings, while new to the coaching literature, supported previous research in other fields regarding the importance and domain specificity of experts’ superior perceptual capacities.

Paul G. Schempp is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Sophie Woorons is with the Brookstone Tennis Academy, Anderson, SC.

Address author correspondence to Paul G. Schempp at pschempp@uga.edu.
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