The Development of Bilateral Skill Symmetry: Insights From Gaelic Football Players and Coaches

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Karol Dillon Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Sport and Human Performance Research Centre, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

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Paul Kinnerk Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

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Ian Sherwin Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Sport and Human Performance Research Centre, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

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Philip E. Kearney Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Sport and Human Performance Research Centre, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Movement & Skill Acquisition Ireland, Cork, Ireland

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Developing players who are adept at using both sides of the body (i.e., bilateral skill) is a challenge for coaches in many sports. With players being required to execute a range of skills with hand and foot on both sides of the body, Gaelic football provides an ideal natural laboratory for the study of laterality. Previous quantitative research has produced equivocal findings regarding the importance of bilateral skill performance in sport. In light of this equivocality, this paper utilized a qualitative approach to distill the beliefs and experiences of 14 players and five coaches who had performed at the highest level in Gaelic football. Three higher order categories were produced from the transcripts: the importance of being bilaterally skilled, the potential to develop bilateral skill, and methods to develop bilateral skills. Overall, this study highlights lessons for the design of future quantitative studies of bilateral skill in sport and should stimulate reflection on current practice regarding both short- and long-term bilateral skill development on the part of researchers, applied sport scientists, and coaches.

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