This study examined the relationship of sport-specific knowledge to the development of children's skills in basketball. Two experiments were conducted. The first compared child expert and novice basketball players in two age leagues, 8-10 years and 11-12 years, on the individual components of basketball performance (control of the basketball, cognitive decisions, and motor execution) and on measures of basketball knowledge, dribbling skill, and shooting skill. Child expert players of both age groups possessed more shooting skill and more basketball knowledge. A canonical correlation analysis indicated that basketball knowledge was related to decision-making skill, whereas dribbling and shooting skill were related to the motor components of control and execution. Experiment 2 examined the changes in the individual components of performance, basketball knowledge, dribbling skill, and shooting skill from the beginning to the end of the season. Subjects improved in the cognitive decision-making and control components of performance across the course of the season, and basketball knowledge increased from the beginning to the end of the season. Only basketball knowledge was a significant predictor of the decision-making component at the end of the season. The overall results of Experiments 1 and 2 indicate that the development of the sport knowledge base plays a salient role in skilled sport performance of children.
Karen E. French and Jerry R. Thomas
Sue L. McPherson and Karen E. French
This study examined changes in cognitive and motor skill aspects of tennis performance in adult novices as the result of two types of instruction. In Experiment 1, subjects received instruction in motor skills and declarative knowledge followed by the introduction and integration of tennis strategies. In Experiment 2, subjects received declarative and strategic knowledge and minimal skill instruction followed by an emphasis on refining knowledge and skill in game situations. A knowledge test, skills tests, and actual game play (control, decision, and execution components of performance) were analyzed at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester. Cognitive components increased concurrently with skill improvement when instruction was skill oriented. However, improvements in motor skill components did not occur in Experiment 2 until integration of skill instruction. These findings suggest that, without direct instruction, changes in cognitive components (accuracy of decisions) are more easily developed than motor components.
Jerry R. Thomas, Karen E. French, and Charlotte A. Humphries
In this paper we propose that research in motor behavior has failed to meet the obligation of studying how children learn important sport skills. In particular, understanding the specific sport knowledge base is essential to studying skilled sport behavior. To support this view we review the research in the cognitive area relative to the development of expertise. We then attempt to justify why a similar approach is useful for motor behavior researchers and why they should undertake the study of sport skill acquisition. Finally, we offer a paradigm within which sport skill research might take place.