Volume 41 - n. 1 - January-March 2010


Conceptualizing the systemic interplay of athlete development

Michael B. Johnson *, William A. Edmonds **, Sachin Jain *** and Javier Cavazos Jr ****

(*) The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA
(**) Nova Southeastern University,USA
(***) University of Idaho,USA
(****) Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi,USA

The current article argues that future investigations of athlete development should include both environmental and genetic factors, as well as consider the interplay among these factors. First, the athlete systemic development (ASD) model is introduced and discussed relative to existing models of athlete development. Next, literature relevant to the ASD model from the disciplines of sport psychology, developmental psychology, and genetics are furnished in order to provide lines of evidence in support of the factors comprising the ASD model. Third, two statistical conceptualizations (i.e., structural equation modeling and hierarchical linear modeling) are presented in a manner that supports the efficacy of the structure of the ASD model. Throughout this review the authors advocate and argue for a systemic approach to better understand athlete development.

Keywords: ASD model, Genetics, HLM, Nature-nurture, genetics, SEM, Sport psychology



Anticipation of penalty kicking direction can be improved by directing attention through perceptual learning

Geert J.p. Savelsbergh */**/***, Peter J. Van Gastel * and Paulien M. Van Kampen */**

(*) Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(**) Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
(***) Academy for Physical Education, University of Professional Education, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The aim of the study was to improve the estimation of the direction of the ball during penalty kicks by changing the visual search behaviour. Inexperienced goalkeepers divided into three groups moved a joystick in response to penalty kick situations presented on a large screen in pre-test, training and post-test phases of an experiment. The perceptual learning group practised with film clips that were edited to highlight relevant information in the run-up sequence of the kicker. The training group practised with the same film clips but without any highlights. A third group served as control and only performed the pre- and post-tests. The results showed that the visual search behaviour of the perceptual training group changed significantly and improved the initiation of the joystick movement. This initiation coincided with the timing of the most important visual information and led to significantly better performance than the other two groups (i.e. more penalties were stopped).

Keywords: Anticipation, Penalty kich, Perceptual training, Visual search behaviour



Influence of early environmental constraints on achievement motivation in talented young handball players

Jörg Schorer *, Joseph Baker **, Simone Lotz *** and Dirk Büsch ****

(*) Institute for Sport Science, Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster, Germany
(**) School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Canada
(***) Institute for Sport Science, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
(****) Institute for Applied Training Science, Leipzig, Germany

This study examined relationships among achievement motivation, relative age and size of one’s early developmental environment (i.e., as reflected in population) in predicting attainment in a national talent program (i.e., being nominated for advancement in the program). Results indicated no consistent differences in achievement motivation among athletes who were nominated and those who were not. Moreover, relative age effects were noted across the entire sample but no distribution differences were found between the nominated and not-nominated groups. There was some support for the notion that environments that are too large or too small are disadvantageous to athlete development; however, the pattern of results was not entirely consistent with the environment sizes noted by others. Finally, there was no interaction between motivation and relative age or size of early environment. While these factors may be important constraints on the acquisition of athletic skill, they may be too general to predict specific outcomes within one stage of development.

Keywords: Birthplace, Development, Expertise, Relative age



Participation in sports activities and suicide prevention

David Lester *, Michele Battuello **, Marco Innamorati ***, Ilaria Falcone **, Enrica De Simoni **, S. Diletta Del Bono **, Roberto Tatarelli ** and Maurizio Pompili **/****

(*) The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ, USA
(**) Department of Psychiatry, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
(***) Università Europea di Roma, Rome, Italy
(****) McLean Hospital – Harvard Medical School, MA, USA

The aim of the present article is to review research on the link between physical activity and involvement in sports and suicidality. This review of the literature indicated that physical activity and sports participation may have a beneficial impact on suicidality, at least in boys and men and in some ethnic groups. However, it is not clear whether physical activity acts directly on suicidality (e.g. affecting the serotonergic system in the central nervous system) or through a mediating variable such as depression or higher self-esteem. Furthermore, the review has identified some inconsistency in the results, and methodological problems with the research have been identified.

Keywords: Depression, Physical activity, Hopelessness, Suicide



Examination of practice activities related to the acquisition of elite performance in Canadian middle distance running

Bradley W. Young and John H. Salmela

University of Ottawa, Canada

Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer’s (1993) framework for the acquisition of expertise was examined using three global metrics for cumulative practice, including an exclusive sport-specific and a priori defined metric for deliberate practice (Young & Salmela, 2002). Based on practice histories for 48 national, provincial and club middle distance runners, between-group analyses were conducted separately for each of the global measures and also for accumulations in each of 12 specific individual training activities across the initial seven years of a career. Each of the global measures failed to discriminate between groups, with cumulative DP demonstrating the smallest effect sizes. National athletes reported more technique practice than Club runners across the first 5 yrs of a career, and more endurance weights than lesser-skilled groups after 3 yrs and onwards in a career. Provincial runners accumulated more work with a coach than Club runners across the first 5 yrs. Discussion focused on whether an exclusive a priori defined cumulative deliberate practice metric advances work in the area, as well as how the three significant individual training activities contribute to acquired expertise in running.

Keywords: Deliberate practice, Expertise, Running



Revisiting the relationship between pattern recall and anticipatory skill

Damian Farrow *, Jason Mccrae **, John Gross ** and Bruce Abernethy ***

(*) Skill Acquisition, Australian Institute of Soort, Australia
(**) Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra, Australia
(***) Institute of Human Performance, The University of Hong Kong, China and School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Australia

This study compared expert, intermediate and novice participants on their ability to recall and anticipate structured rugby union line-out patterns. The recall task required participants to recall the location of each player in a line-out formation at a time point when the pattern was considered structured. The anticipation task required participants to predict the final location of each player in the line-out and identify which player would catch the ball. Strong expertise effects were found with the expert rugby players able to recall and anticipate structured patterns of play with significantly greater accuracy than the lesser skilled participants. Multiple regressions revealed that the pattern recall skill accounted for 40% of the variance in anticipatory skill. Discussion centres on the robustness of this relationship when the relative skill level of the performers, the nature of the patterns presented, and the experimental task used are collectively considered.

Keywords: Anticipation, Expertise, Memory, Perception