This study examined how conceptual knowledge concerning batting preparation develops with playing experience and how this knowledge influences decision making during a simulated game situation. Twelve experts, their coach, and 12 novices viewed a half-inning of a videotaped collegiate baseball game and assumed the role of the fourth batter. Propositional-type analysis of subjects' think-aloud protocols revealed experts' conceptual representation of batting preparation enabled them to search through a highly restricted problem space, which facilitated the development of sophisticated condition-action rules used to solve the problem. Experts' rules were more tactical, refined, and associated compared to novices' rules. Experts were different from novices in what attributes were considered important to solving the problem. Experts generated self-regulatory strategies to update, check, and modify their predictions of pitcher characteristics. This study provides initial evidence of the nature of adult expert sport performers' conceptual knowledge underlying decision making in sport situations.
Sue L. McPherson
Research examining planning strategies used by high-strategy open-skill performers is limited. This study examined planning responses of collegiate varsity (experts, n = 6) and beginner (novices, n = 6) women tennis players between points during competition. Other articles focused on expert-novice differences in problem representations (quantitative analyses of verbal data via audiotaping) accessed during simulated situations and during actual competition (immediate recall point interviews) and performance skills during competition (via videotaping). Mann-Whitney U tests on verbal report measures indicated experts generated more total, varied, and sophisticated goal, condition, action, and do concepts than novices. Experts planned for actions based on elaborate and sophisticated action plan and current event profiles; novices rarely planned and they lacked these memory structures. Differences in internal self-talk were also noted.
Sue L. McPherson and Clare MacMahon
Our understanding of the role of tactical knowledge in baseball batting preparation is scarce, thereby limiting training guidelines. We examined the verbal reports of baseball players and nonplayers when told to view different edited video sequences of a half-inning of baseball competition under different task conditions: to prepare to bat (problem solve); recall as much information as possible (intentional recall); or prepare to bat, with an unexpected recall (incidental recall). Separate mixed-model ANOVAs (Expertise X Instruction conditions) on verbal report measures indicated that nonplayers used general strategies for recalling baseball events and lacked the tactical skills to use such information for their upcoming times at bat. In contrast, players used baseball-specific strategies to encode and retrieve pertinent game events from long-term memory (LTM) to develop tactics for their upcoming times at bat and to recall as much information as possible. Recommendations for training tactical skills are presented as some players exhibited defciencies in the LTM structures that mediate batting decisions.
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.