This research examined whether skilled sports performers’ enhanced declarative knowledge base is a by-product of experience or a characteristic of expertise. Experienced high-skill (n = 12) and low-skill (n = 12) soccer players and physically disabled spectators (n = 12) were tested on soccer recall, recognition, and anticipation ability. MANCOVA showed that high-skill players demonstrated superior anticipatory performance compared with low-skill players, who in turn were better than physically disabled spectators. ANOVA showed that high-skill players demonstrated superior recall performance on structured trials only. Also, low-skill players were significantly better than physically disabled spectators on the structured trials. MANCOVA showed that high-skill players were better at recognizing structured and unstructured trials. No differences were found between low-skill players and physically disabled spectators. It appears that high-skill players possess a larger and more elaborate declarative knowledge base. Thus, declarative knowledge is a constituent of skill rather than a by-product of experience.
Mark Williams is with the Department of Movement Science and Physical Education and Department of Orthoptics at the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, U.K. Keith Davids is with the Division of Sport Science at The Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe & Alsager Faculty, Hassall Road, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent, ST7 2HL, U.K.