The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of concurrent verbal protocols to identify and map thought processes of players during a golf-putting task. Three novice golfers and three experienced golfers performed twenty 12-foot putts while thinking aloud. Verbalizations were transcribed verbatim and coded using an inductive method. Content analysis and event-sequence analysis were performed. Mapping of thought sequences indicated that experienced players’ cognitive processes centered on gathering information and planning, while beginners focused on technical aspects. Experienced players diagnosed current performance aspects more often than beginners did and were more likely to use this information to plan the next putt. These results are consistent with experienced players’ higher domain-specific knowledge and less reliance on step-by-step monitoring of motor performance than beginners. The methods used for recording, analyzing, and interpreting on-line thoughts of performers shed light on cognitive processes, which have implications for research.
Luis Calmeiro is with the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Durham, UK. Gershon Tenenbaum is with Florida State University College of Education in Tallahassee, FL.