Developmental activities and the acquisition of superior anticipation and decision making in soccer players

Roca, André and Williams, A. Mark and Ford, Paul R. (2012) Developmental activities and the acquisition of superior anticipation and decision making in soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30 (15). pp. 1643-1652. ISSN 0264-0414

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We examined whether soccer players with varying levels of perceptual-cognitive expertise can be differentiated based on their engagement in various types and amounts of activity during their development. A total of 64 participants interacted with lifesize video clips of 11 versus 11 dynamic situations in soccer, viewed from the first-person perspective of a central defender. They were required to anticipate the actions of their opponents and to make appropriate decisions as to how best to respond. Response accuracy scores were used to categorise elite players (n ¼ 48) as high- (n ¼ 16) and low-performing (n ¼ 16) participants. A group of recreational players (n ¼ 16) who had lower response accuracy scores compared to the elite groups acted as controls. The participation history profiles of players were recorded using retrospective recall questionnaires. The average hours accumulated per year during childhood in soccer-specific play activity was the strongest predictor of perceptual-cognitive expertise. Soccer-specific practice activity during adolescence was also a predictor, albeit its impact was relatively modest. No differences were reported across groups for number of other sports engaged in during development, as AQ1 well as for some of the key milestones achieved. A number of implications for talent development are discussed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Identifying and developing elite soccer players
Uncontrolled Keywords: Soccer players; Response accuracy scores; Perception; Cognition; Expert performance; Skill development; Perceptual-cognitive expertise
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 152 Perception, movement, emotions & drives
700 The arts; fine & decorative arts; recreation > 796 Athletic & outdoor sports & games
School/Department: School of Sport, Health and Applied Science
Depositing User: Catherine O'Sullivan
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2013 09:20
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2016 11:43


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