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  • Author: Janet L. Starkes x
  • Psychology and Behavior in Sport/Exercise x
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Janet L. Starkes

The present study assessed the relative importance of attributes determined largely by the efficiency of the central nervous system versus cognitive attributes in the determination of expertise in field hockey. Three groups were assessed on a battery of field hockey related perceptual and cognitive tasks: the Canadian Women's Field Hockey team, a university team, and a novice group. The attributes assessed were simple reaction time, dynamic visual acuity, coincident anticipation, ball detection speed and accuracy, complex decision speed and accuracy, shot prediction accuracy both when ball impact was viewed and when it was occluded, and recall accuracy of game-structured and nonstructured information. The multitask approach revealed the importance of cognitive abilities in the determination of skill in field hockey.

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Janet L. Starkes and Fran Allard

Volleyball players and nonplayers were compared for speed and accuracy of performance in a task involving detection of the presence of a volleyball in rapidly presented slides of a volleyball situation. Slides depicted both game and nongame situations, and subjects performed the task in both noncompetitive and competitive conditions. For all subjects, game information was perceived more quickly and accurately than nongame information. In competition all subjects showed decreased perceptual accuracy and no change in criterion, supporting the Easterbrook (1959) notion of perceptual narrowing with stress. Very large accompanying increases in response speed, however, suggested that competition may induce adoption of a particular speed-accuracy trade-off. Cognitive flexibility in the adoption of particular speed-accuracy trade-offs is discussed with reference to volleyball.

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Fran Allard and Janet L. Starkes

Volleyball players and nonplayers were compared for speed and accuracy of performance in a task involving detecting the presence of a volleyball in a rapidly presented slide of a volleyball situation. The volleyball situations depicted both game action and nongame events, for example, timeouts and warm-ups. Players and nonplayers did not differ in accuracy of response, but players were much faster in responding for both game and nongame slides. Further experiments showed that volleyball players' speed of response in ball detection was not a function of a simple athlete-nonathlete difference, nor of volleyball players' being fast at visual search in a nonvolleyball environment. The perceptual skill shown by volleyball players in this series of experiments is best described as a rapid visual search specific to the ball as target.

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Janet L. Starkes, Janice M. Deakin, Susan Lindley and Freda Crisp

Two experiments investigated the role of motor performance, and the role of music in the retention and recall of ballet sequences by young expert dancers. Experiment 1 examined 11-year-old expert (N=8) and novice (N=8) dancers, to determine the influence of motor performance in the recall of ballet steps. Subjects were presented with two conditions, either structured choreographed or unstructured sequences. All sequences consisted of eight steps or elements. Subjects recalled both types of sequences motorically by simply performing the steps. Verbal recall was also assessed for structured sequences. Results from analyses of variance indicated main effects of skill, recall condition, and serial position across elements. Experts recalled more than novices, structured sequences were recalled better than nonstructured, and the last sequence element was recalled less. An interaction of Skill X Recall Condition x Serial Position revealed that although experts and novices performed the same on unstructured trials, their performances differed for motor versus verbal structured trials, particularly on the last elements. Experiment 2 examined only expert dancers (i¥=8) on structured sequences and determined whether the presence of music at time of recall aided retention. Correlated t tests revealed that with music, recall was maintained across all eight elements; without music, recall of the last element suffered.

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Werner F. Helsen, Janet L. Starkes and Nicola J. Hodges

Two studies tested the theory of deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993) and contrasted results with the sport commitment model (Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, Simons, & Keeler, 1993a, 1993b). In Part I, international, national, and provincial soccer and field hockey players recalled the amount of time they spent in individual and team practice, sport-related activities, and everyday activities at the start of their career and every 3 years since. In Part II, these activities were rated in terms of their relevance for improving performance, effort and concentration required, and enjoyment. A monotonic relationship between accumulated individual plus team practice and skill level was found. In contrast with Ericsson et al.’s (1993) findings for musicians, relevant activities were also enjoyable, while concentration became a separate dimension from effort. The viability of a generalized theory of expertise is discussed.

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Janice M. Deakin, Janet L. Starkes and Digby Elliott

The influence of exercise-induced arousal on the processing of visual information by three age groups was tested. Subjects were required to perform the Treisman visual detection task both at rest and during a steady-state walk at 75% of their maximum heart rate. The expected age differences in perceptual performance were apparent. The detection performance of 8-year-olds was poorer than that of 11-year-olds and adults. Detection of conjoined feature targets, with increases in the array size, showed a decrement in comparison to single feature targets. Subjects responded more quickly at all levels of distraction when a target was present while they were exercising. The results supported certain elements of Treisman's feature integration theory. This study has provided evidence that an exercise stress equivalent to 75 % of maximum heart rate had a positive effect on the visual perceptual performance of all groups tested. Both array size and feature conditions interacted with age. This suggests that children are not able to avoid irrelevant information as effectively as adults. In addition, children are differentially affected by different target characteristics in the detection task.

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Janet L. Starkes, Marylynn Caicco, Cate Boutilier and Brian Sevsek

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Patricia L. Weir, Tracey Kerr, Nicola J. Hodges, Sandra M. McKay and Janet L. Starkes

Recent work in the area of sport expertise suggests that practice patterns can also play a critical role in maintaining athletic performance. This article examines the contribution of both physiological changes and practice patterns to swimming performances of master-, international-, junior-national-, and varsity-level swimmers. A comparison of the practice patterns of these groups suggests that master athletes spend significantly less time per week training for competition, and their training focus is on endurance, not strength. Younger swimmers train for endurance, strength, speed, and power. The authors suggest that these differences might be partly responsible for age-related performance changes. Performance changes for semilongitudinal and cross-sectional samples are characterized by significant quadratic beta weight, indicating increasing declines in performance starting at around 60 years of age. These data are discussed with respect to the role that practice plays in explaining performance changes with age.

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Bradley W. Young, Nikola Medic, Patricia L. Weir and Janet L. Starkes

Researchers have contended that patterns of age-related decline are not necessarily due to age, but rather to disuse, or declining practice (Bortz, 1982; Ericsson, 2000; Maharam, Bauman, Kalman, Skolnik, & Perle, 1999). A regression approach was used to examine age and training variables as predictors of 10-km running performance between 40 and 59 years of age. A sample of 30 Masters runners (M age = 50.1 years, M 10-km time = 39:19) reported data for ongoing training, cumulative running in the past 5 years, and cumulative running earlier in a career. In Analysis 1, ongoing training variables explained more variance in performance than age alone, and reduced the unique variance attributable to age in a combined model. In Analysis 2, findings were replicated using past cumulative running variables and age; running in the past 5 years explained more unique variance than age alone. Discussion focuses on how findings relate to the selective maintenance account (Krampe & Ericsson, 1996), how various aspects of training help to preserve performance in aging populations, and recommendations for future research.

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Werner F. Helsen, Nikola Medic, Janet L. Starkes and Andrew M. Williams

Inequalities in relative age distribution have previously been demonstrated to influence participation and performance achievements in Masters athletes. The purpose of the present study was to examine the participation- and performance-related constituent year effect among Masters athletes (N = 2,474) from the European Masters Track and Field Championships across subdisciplines and age. The results indicated that a participation-related constituent year effect was observed. The likelihood of participation was significantly higher for athletes in their first year of any 5-year age category (χ2 = 149.8, p < .001) and decreased significantly when they were in the fourth or fifth year. The results also indicated a performance-related constituent year effect. Masters athletes in their first year won significantly more medals than expected based on observed participation rate (χ2 = 23.39, p < .001). We compare our results with the existing literature and discuss potential mechanisms for this constituent year effect.