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Derek T.Y. Mann, A. Mark Williams, Paul Ward and Christopher M. Janelle

Research focusing on perceptual-cognitive skill in sport is abundant. However, the existing qualitative syntheses of this research lack the quantitative detail necessary to determine the magnitude of differences between groups of varying levels of skills, thereby limiting the theoretical and practical contribution of this body of literature. We present a meta-analytic review focusing on perceptual-cognitive skill in sport (N = 42 studies, 388 effect sizes) with the primary aim of quantifying expertise differences. Effects were calculated for a variety of dependent measures (i.e., response accuracy, response time, number of visual fixations, visual fixation duration, and quiet eye period) using point-biserial correlation. Results indicated that experts are better than nonexperts in picking up perceptual cues, as revealed by measures of response accuracy and response time. Systematic differences in visual search behaviors were also observed, with experts using fewer fixations of longer duration, including prolonged quiet eye periods, compared with nonexperts. Several factors (e.g., sport type, research paradigm employed, and stimulus presentation modality) significantly moderated the relationship between level of expertise and perceptual-cognitive skill. Practical and theoretical implications are presented and suggestions for empirical work are provided.

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Collin A. Webster

Expert golf instructors self-monitor their instruction and communication more than any other aspects of their teaching (Schempp, McCullick, Busch, Webster, & Sannen-Mason, 2006). Despite its apparent importance, however, the communication of expert golf instructors has received little investigative attention. The purpose of this study was to examine the instructional communication behaviors of 4 of the most highly accomplished golf instructors in the United States. Ladies Professional Golf Association instructors who met criteria for expert teaching (Berliner, 1994) and 4 students participated in the study. Videotaping, stimulated recall, and semistructured interviews were used to collect data on the teachers’ immediacy, communication style, and content relevance behaviors. Data were analyzed using modified analytic induction (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). Findings indicated that the experts adapted their communication behaviors in ways that fit students’ learning preferences, personal experiences, and lesson goals. The findings resonate with previous research on expert teaching in terms of experts’ instructional flexibility.

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Kristoffer Henriksen, Louise Kamuk Storm, Natalia Stambulova, Nicklas Pyrdol and Carsten Hvid Larsen

. Based on interviews with expert sport psychology practitioners (SPPs), the present study investigates successful and less successful intervention experiences in two main contexts: competitive youth and elite senior sport. Successful sport psychology interventions are sensitized in the sense that they

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A. Mark Williams and K. Anders Ericsson

In this themed issue of the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, we bring together an eclectic mix of papers focusing on how expert performers learn the skills needed to compete at the highest level in sport. In the preface, we highlight the value of adopting the expert performance approach as a systematic framework for the evaluation and development of expertise and expert performance in sport. We then place each of the empirical papers published in this issue into context and briefly outline their unique contributions to knowledge in this area. Finally, we highlight several potential avenues for future research in the hope of encouraging others to scientifically study how experts acquire the mechanisms mediating superior performance in sport and how coaches can draw on this knowledge to guide their athletes toward the most effective training activities.

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David W. Eccles, Susanne E. Walsh and David K. Ingledew

The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of expert cognition in orienteering. The British orienteering squad was interviewed (N = 17) and grounded theory was used to develop a theory of expert cognition in orienteering. A task constraint identified as central to orienteering is the requirement to manage attention to three sources of information: the map, the environment, and travel. Optimal management is constrained by limited processing resources. However, consistent with the research literature, the results reveal considerable adaptations by experts to task constraints, characterized primarily by various cognitive skills including anticipation and simplification. By anticipating the environment from the map, and by simplifying the information required to navigate, expert orienteers can circumvent processing limitations. Implications of this theory for other domains involving navigation, and for the coaching process within the sport, are discussed.

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Isabel Mesquita, Joana Ribeiro, Sofia Santos and Kevin Morgan

The aim of this study was to analyze Portuguese expert coaches’ conceptions of learning sources that promote long-term coach development and the extent to which these sources are currently present in coach education programs. Six expert coaches were individually interviewed, using a semistructured format and the interviews were analyzed using QSR N6 Nudist software. The results highlighted the participants’ awareness of the uniqueness of coach education, emphasizing the importance of reflecting and engaging with a variety of learning experiences. Findings also revealed dissatisfaction with the current dominant education framework in Portugal, which remains excessively didactic and classroom-orientated. In contrast, the participants externalized a constructivist approach for coach education assuming the need for theoretical knowledge to be framed in practical contexts, where they have the opportunity to share and reflect their own and others’ experiences to develop learning. Such a position echoes Sfard’s acquisition and participation learning metaphors.

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Bruce Abernethy and David G. Russell

Two experiments are described comparing the temporal and spatial characteristics of the anticipatory cues used by expert (n=20) and novice (n=35) racquet sport players. In both experiments the perceptual display available in badminton was simulated using film, and display characteristics were selectively manipulated either by varying the duration of the stroke sequence that was visible (Experiment 1) or by selectively masking specific display features (Experiment 2). The subjects* task in all cases was to predict the landing position of the stroke they were viewing. It was found in Experiment 1 that experts were able to pick up more relevant information from earlier display cues than could novices, and this appeared in Experiment 2 to be due to their ability to extract advance information from the playing side arm, in addition to the racquet itself. These differences, it was concluded, were congruent with predictions that could be derived from traditional information-processing notions related to recognition of display redundancy. The roles of different anticipatory cue sources in the independent predictions of stroke speed and direction were also examined, and it was concluded that directional judgments were more dependent on cue specificity than were depth judgments.

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Gordon A. Bloom, Natalie Durand-Bush and John H. Salmela

Little or no empirical research has examined the pre- and postcompetition routines of coaches. The purpose of this study was to address this oversight by conducting in-depth open-ended interviews with 21 expert coaches from four team sports. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and inductively analyzed following the procedures outlined by Côté and colleagues (1993, 1995). The results indicated that coaches had set routines for themselves and their players before and after a competition. Prior to the competition, coaches prepared and mentally rehearsed their game plan, engaged in physical activity to maintain a positive focus, held a team meeting, and occupied themselves during the warmup. Their words immediately before the game were used to stress key points. After the competition, coaches emphasized the importance of controlling their emotions and adopted different behaviors to appropriately deal with the team’s performance and outcome. A brief meeting was held to recapitulate the essential elements of the game and a detailed analysis was not presented until the next practice or meeting.

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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.

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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.