The Contribution of Structured Activity and Deliberate Play to the Development of Expert Perceptual and Decision-Making Skill

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Ballarat
  • | 2 University of Hong Kong
  • | 3 University of Queensland
  • | 4 Queen’s University
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The developmental histories of 32 players in the Australian Football League (AFL), independently classified as either expert or less skilled in their perceptual and decision-making skills, were collected through a structured interview process and their year-on-year involvement in structured and deliberate play activities retrospectively determined. Despite being drawn from the same elite level of competition, the expert decision-makers differed from the less skilled in having accrued, during their developing years, more hours of experience in structured activities of all types, in structured activities in invasion-type sports, in invasion-type deliberate play, and in invasion activities from sports other than Australian football. Accumulated hours invested in invasion-type activities differentiated between the groups, suggesting that it is the amount of invasion-type activity that is experienced and not necessarily intent (skill development or fun) or specificity that facilitates the development of perceptual and decision-making expertise in this team sport.

Berry is with the Essendon Football Club and the School of Human Movement & Sport Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia; Abernethy is with the Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, and the School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and Côté is with the School of Physical and Health Education, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

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