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Characteristics of expert development in rhythmic gymnastics: A retrospective study

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The development of expertise for two groups of rhythmic gymnasts was studied where a group of elite (Olympic) gymnasts was compared to a group of sub-elite (International) gymnasts. Structured interviews were used to collect retrospective information about the gymnasts?health, training resources, level and ranking, and hours spent in training activities. The gymnasts rated practice activities during the last period of their development (age 16 and older) with respect to their perceived physical effort, mental concentration, and fun. The Olympic gymnasts were involved in significantly fewer activities and sports throughout their development compared to the International gymnasts. All gymnasts reported engaging in five practice activities of warm-up, ballet, technique training, routines, and conditioning in their rhythmic gymnastics training. Olympic gymnasts allocated substantially more time to the practice activities of ballet, technique, routines, and conditioning, compared to the International gymnasts. Olympic gymnasts also rated their health as lower than the International gymnasts. All gymnasts reported that the practice activities of technique and routine training required more physical effort and mental concentration than warm-up, ballet, and conditioning. The Olympic gymnasts reported experiencing less fun in their participation overall. The findings of this study provide a comprehensive description of early activity involvement, training activities, training resources, and health and injury ratings of expert level rhythmic gymnasts and help to further the understanding of how to assess sport expertise development.
... Ericsson et al. [12] argued that early specialization and 10,000 h of DPR was necessary for future success in becoming an expert, and that it would be next to impossible for a late starter to overcome the advantages of an early starter and the high amount of DPR training. Previous studies supporting the "early specialization way" have shown that experts were involved in higher numbers of sport-specific training (DPR) from an early age compared with non-experts [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. However, these studies have been criticized for a monotonous relationship between the numbers of hours of DPR which individuals have performed [21], and/or for not exploring the connection with other factors (e.g., deliberate play, organized competitions and other sports) that are linked to sports participation in an individual developing perspective [22,23]. ...
... next to impossible for a late starter to overcome the advantages of an early starter and the high amount of DPR training. Previous studies supporting the "early specialization way" have shown that experts were involved in higher numbers of sport-specific training (DPR) from an early age compared with non-experts [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. However, these studies have been criticized for a monotonous relationship between the numbers of hours of DPR which individuals have performed [21], and/or for not exploring the connection with other factors (e.g., deliberate play, organized competitions and other sports) that are linked to sports participation in an individual developing perspective [22,23]. ...
... It is not possible to make inferences, nor generalize on the part of the participants [37]. Moreover, studies that have analyzed DPL and DPR activities have focused on the number of hours involved, throughout adolescence and later in the career [6,7,[12][13][14][15][17][18][19]23,25,27,28,30,31,33,34,37,[41][42][43][44], rather than recording and analyzing well-defined activity types. ...
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This study analyzes the activity level and nature of organized football training (deliberate practice, DPR), compared with when children play football on their own (deliberate play, DPL), in a sample of selected (YT) and non-selected (BT) talents. A total of 29 observations were analyzed over 2650 min, focusing on the kind of activity, variability, and intensity of the training. In DPL, there are more finishing on goal, involvement, and challenges in 1:1 situation, and more ball touches and carrying in games, compared with DPR. Additionally, DPL has more activity time (68% vs. 56%) and fewer breaks overall (32% vs. 44%). In DPL, children spend more time playing against each other (92% vs. 36%), and most of the time there are games or attempts on goal. In DPR, children spend more time playing together with someone (2% vs. 44%) and in passing and receiving the ball. DPR training contains more standardized exercises and protected situations. DPR-YT training differs from DPR-BT training with less activity time, ball touches, attempts on goal, and 1:1 situations. In conclusion, the results support DPL providing more football-specific activity. More DPR training at the expense of DPL might reduce practice time for skill development.
... Gobet and Campitelli [10] concluded that the number of hours with domain-specific training could not be the only requirement for achieving expertise. In the context of Olympic gymnastics, research found that the athletes had accumulated 18,835 training hours by the age of 16 [12]. ...
... Through coach-led organized training, the intention is to improve previous performance and deliberate efforts to change particular aspects of performance without immediate reward. In sports where peak performance is attained before puberty (e.g., women s gymnastics, figure skating), early specialization is often required to reach elite performance [12]. The study by Law et al. [12] on rhythmic gymnastics demonstrated that Olympic gymnasts participated in fewer than two additional activities from age 4 to 16, stating that early specialization in their main sport is necessary to reach a world-class level. ...
... In sports where peak performance is attained before puberty (e.g., women s gymnastics, figure skating), early specialization is often required to reach elite performance [12]. The study by Law et al. [12] on rhythmic gymnastics demonstrated that Olympic gymnasts participated in fewer than two additional activities from age 4 to 16, stating that early specialization in their main sport is necessary to reach a world-class level. ...
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A comprehensive understanding of skill acquisition is important for different performance domains, and has practical implications for both sport sciences and public health. The study compared important constraints for expertise development in a physically demanding sport (cross-country skiing) versus a technically demanding sport (freeskiing). Eighteen world-class athletes reported the importance of different constraints for their developmental history subdivided into two age spans: (1) 7–15 years and (2) 16 years until present. The total amount of training did not differ between the groups, but from the age of 16, the cross-country skiers spend approximately 98% of their training specific to their main sport, compared to 75% for freeskiers. No differences were found between the distribution of organized versus non-organized training in main sport, but freeskiers reported a higher amount of unorganized training in other sports after the age of 16. No differences were found in perceived importance of facilities, enjoyment of performing their sport, or the need for early specialization of training. After the age of 16, the cross-country skiers reported a higher need for coach involvement compared to freeskiers. The two sports mainly share common paths to expertise but differ in the need for specific training and coach involvement.
... Deliberate practice theory 13 and early research 14 has influenced theory and understanding of expert athletes and their development. It can be characterised as effortful, coach-led, individualised activities that are aimed at improving a key aspect of performance that is near or beyond the current ability of the individual, also consisting of repetition and individualised feedback 13 . ...
... Hours accumulated (error bars represent standard error of mean) during (a) childhood (6-12 years of age) and (b) adolescence (13-16 years of age) in competition, coach-led practice, individual practice, and play for the skilled (light-grey bars) and less-skilled (dark-grey bars) soccer players. Table 3. Mean (SD) number of other sports engaged in, number of players who engaged in them, and total accumulated hours during childhood (6-12 years of age) and adolescence (13)(14)(15)(16) is significant for player and team development [54][55][56] , thus, a lack of coaches and well-qualified coaches would likely attenuate this development and likely caused less coach-led practice to occur at the key adolescent phase, which was exacerbated by a low number of training facilities because of the lack of finances. Both skilled and less-skilled players were first recruited to private academies at around 10 years of age which is similar to the age English skilled soccer players were recruited to club-based youth academies 32,57 . ...
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Small/er soccer nations rely strongly on developing youth athletes into experts in adulthood due to financial, logistical, and coach education constraints. One factor that contributes to this expertise is activities engaged in during childhood. Researchers have described these activities by focusing on larger, well-developed countries that often have larger participation rates and higher competition levels than their smaller counterparts. Therefore, to provide more specific information to support talent development in smaller soccer nations, a survey of the youth development system of a small soccer nation was conducted, alongside recording the developmental activities of skilled and less-skilled soccer players within this system. Key stakeholders (e.g., technical director) completed a youth development system survey. Skilled soccer players ( n = 12) who were representing their country at U17 level and less-skilled players ( n = 13) that had never played for their country completed a Participation History Questionnaire. Skilled players engaged in significantly higher amounts of individual practice in both childhood and early adolescence compared to less-skilled players. Survey data indicated that the greater amounts of individual practice for the skilled players stemmed from a lack of finances, playing facilities, and a formal coach education program. Results from this study may inform future practices and processes in the youth development systems of small/er soccer nations and their national associations.
... We realize that the stages experienced do not completely coincide with what is established in the DMSP and shared in international investigations, 22,35 mainly in relation to the duration of the specialization stage, which in this study proved to be short or non-existent for some athletes. In Brazil, initiation into less popular modalities tends to occur late and coincides with entry into Elementary School II. ...
Article
The aim of this study was to identify and describe elements that influenced the engagement of the 2013 Brazilian handball female world champions from grassroots to elite sports levels. Seven members of the team participated in a retrospective examination of their athletic development, with a mean of 20 years of sports experience. A semi-structured interview and questionnaire were used for data collection, and the script was based on the development stages of the Developmental Model of Sport Participation 1 and the dynamic elements of the Personal Assets Framework 2. The thematic analysis showed that the athletes' personal characteristics, their disparate environments, and the quality of their relationships were significant in their pathway to elite performance. The results show that well-structured settings are not important in the early years, but rather the coaches' interest in keeping young athletes engaged in sport is one of the key elements. Moreover, the advance in the maintenance years, training in a more structured setting and the coaches' caring attitude and attention to their athletes' feelings and emotions can lead to pathways toward excellence.
... However, early age talent identification and specialisation have limitations including: (a) the weak predictability of future performances using early identification due to the onset and progress of puberty (Abbott & Collins, 2002;Lidor et al., 2009); (b) issues associated with early specialisation, such as retirement due to the elevated risk of injury (Dalton, 1992) and psychological burn out (Law et al., 2007); and (c) the constrained (smaller) talent pool that less popular sports may have (Baker et al., 2018). Additionally, popular sports (i.e. ...
Article
RESEARCH QUESTION While talent transition pathways have received substantial research attention in the elite sport development literature, talent transfer initiatives, which enable athletes to transition from one sport to another, have received limited consideration. This research addresses the following question pertaining to elite sport development: What features differentiate structured talent transfer from talent transition pathways? RESEARCH METHODS This exploratory study draws on expert practitioners’ perspectives of talent transfer through semi-structured interviews conducted in 2018 with staff (N = 5) and coaches (N = 5) from an Australian-based program. RESULTS AND FINDINGS Differential features of talent transfer identified in this study include accelerated athlete integration into elite sport program, the presence of pre-elite prominent athletic prowess and when compared to talent transition pathways, differentiated skill development progress to the elite level. Additionally, interorganisational collaboration between sports was found to be essential for delivering structured transfer pathways. IMPLICATIONS The differential features suggest that talent transfer can complement talent transition pathways in elite sport development system. However, talent transfer requires the development of cross-sport collaborations. A structured talent transfer definition is provided in an effort to overcome misconceptions and encourage the integration of talent transfer within elite sport development frameworks and sport policy literature.
... 47 It is possible that acquisition of these benefits help youth become performance oriented. Nevertheless, although early sport specialization can produce successful elite athletes, 8,17 retrospective data support the DMSP in that many successful elite athletes began as early sport samplers and only specialized in their main sport after age 16. 22 -24, 48, 49 The discrepancy between the current results and those of retrospective studies may relate to the follow-up ending in midadolescence herein, whereas the DMSP proposes elite status at an older age. 13,18 Longer prospective follow-up is needed to assess the influence of childhood sport profile on late adolescent and adult profiles and whether early sport specializers maintain a performancebased sports participation profile. ...
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The Pediatric Collections: Sports Medicine Playbook will increase pediatric providers’ understanding of the injuries that young athletes may incur – including their history, treatment, and prevention. Each section includes a unique expert introduction and they cover such topics as the benefits of physical activity, injuries, and concerns including concussions. Available for purchase at https://shop.aap.org/pediatric-collections-sports-medicine-playbook-paperback/
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This study aims to analyze the specialized literature on the protocols, instruments, and techniques used to train and assess strength in gymnastics practitioners or athletes who are represented". Studies included in this review address the assessment and training of strength in gymnastics or athletes. Fourteen studies assessing the physical capacity strength in practitioners or gymnastic athletes were the basis of this systematic review. These articles describe low-cost, easy-to-apply protocols and instruments performed in the training gym. The included articles focused on assessing the strength level of adolescent male and female practitioners or athletes for talent selection and detection, as well as lesion reduction. Despite the benefits of strength training, such as better performance and fewer injuries, in general, strength is not regularly assessed. Only studies encompassing artistic and rhythmic gymnastics were found.
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Мета: визначити динаміку розвитку координаційних здібностей спортсменів з фітнесу віком 8–9 років. Матеріал і методи: протестовано 34 спортсменів з фітнесу на початку та в кінці дослідження. Використовувалися наступні методи дослідження: теоретичний аналіз і узагальнення даних спеціальної науково-методичної літератури; педагогічне спостереження; педагогічне тестування; методи математичної статистики. Результати: результати педагогічного дослідження розвитку координаційних здібностей спортсменів з фітнесу віком 8–9 років свідчать про значний приріст показників координаційних здібностей, які підтверджують, що застосування спеціальних комплексів вправ є ефективним підходом у навчально-тренувальному процесі. Висновки: порівняння динаміки статистичних показників підсумкового тестування спортсменів з фітнесу віком 8–9 років показало приріст усіх протестованих показників. Ключові слова: координаційні здібності, спортсмени, фітнес, тестування.
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Objectives Sport developmental models contend that participating in different sports promotes expertise development, implying positive skill transfer between sports. This study conceptualizes and examines how specific and general transfer occur and interact between sports in the short- (skill transfer) and long-term (learning transfer). Specific transfer is predicated on the perception and utilisation of specifying information in a transfer task, while general transfer relies on non-specifying, general information. Furthermore, the study examined how certain conditions (affordance similarity, perceptual-motor exploration and expertise) promote the transfer process. Design Systematic literature review. Methods An electronic search was performed on SPORTDiscuss, Pubmed/MEDLINE, and Scopus. Studies were included if participants performed a transfer task in a sport different to the sport they learned a skill in. Results A total of 17 studies of low-to-moderate quality were included. Most studies showed specificity of transfer between sports with overlapping affordances and generality of transfer between sports with no overlapping affordances (for a given skill). Only 2 studies examined how perceptual-motor exploration supported specific transfer, and 2 examined transfer for (subsequent) learning with contrasting results. Six studies indicated an expertise effect, showing higher transfer in skilled vs less-skilled athletes. Conclusions This review provides a conceptualization of specificity and generality of transfer, and initial evidence on how transfer emerges between sports in the short-term. It provides little information on the general-specific interaction in the short-term, and does not provide any insights on how transfer emerges in mid- and long-term. As such, no inference regarding sport developmental models can be made. The low-to-moderate quality of the studies requires caution in interpreting these findings. We encourage future research to investigate general and specific transfer longitudinally, recruiting populations with different expertise levels to further advance our current understanding.
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Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer's (1993) framework for the acquisition of expertise described deliberate practice as training most relevant for the improvement of performance within any domain. The object of this study was to specifically test Ericsson et al.'s (1993) definition of deliberate practice with Canadian middle distance runners. Etghty-one runners rated lists of track practice activities, track-related activities, and everyday activities according to each activity's relevance for improving performance, the amount of effort and concentration required to perform each activity, and how enjoyable they considered their participation in each activity. Contrary to the original conception of deliberate practice, results indicated that the most relevant and the most effortful activities were also perceived as most enjoyable. No significant differences were found between national, provincial, and club performance groups in terms of the athletes' perceptions of the activities. Finally, middle distance runners' practice activities were identified according to a modified conception of deliberate practice for sport.
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The theoretical framework presented in this article explains expert performance as the end result of individuals' prolonged efforts to improve performance while negotiating motivational and external constraints. In most domains of expertise, individuals begin in their childhood a regimen of effortful activities (deliberate practice) designed to optimize improvement. Individual differences, even among elite performers, are closely related to assessed amounts of deliberate practice. Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years. Analysis of expert performance provides unique evidence on the potential and limits of extreme environmental adaptation and learning.
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Of growing concern to sport researchers is the practice of youth sport athletes specializing in sport at a young age. Sport specialization is characterized by year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sport or nonsport activities. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the potential benefits of specialized sport at an early age in light of the potential risks associated with specialized participation. Three areas of consideration are discussed, including motor skill acquisition and performance, potential sociological consequences, and psychological concerns related to high-intensity training of young athletes. Finally, recommendations for further research and practical considerations are suggested for deciding the appropriateness of specialized sport in the training and development of youth sport athletes.
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This study used participants from the marital arts (karate) to examine the influence of context in the acquisition of novel motor sequences and the applicability of Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer's (1993) theory of deliberate practice in this athletic domain. The presence of context did not benefit recall performance for the experts. The performance of the novice group was hindered by the presence of context. Evaluation of the role of deliberate practice in expert performance was assessed through retrospective questionnaires. The findings related to the relationship between relevance and effort, and relevance and enjoyment diverged from Ericsson et al.'s (1993) definition of deliberate practice, suggesting that adaptations should be made if it is to be considered a general theory of expertise.
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Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer (1993) have concluded from work with musicians that expertise is the result of ≪deliberate practice≫, so how valid is this conclusion in sport? Four groups of male amateur wrestlers (n = 42); 2 international and 2 club (current and retired) recalled the number of hours they had spent in wrestling and everyday activities since beginning wrestling. All groups had begun wrestling at a similar age (M = 13 yrs) and had been wrestling for 10 years or more. Data were examined as a function of age and years spent wrestling. Contrary to Ericsson et al. practice alone activities did not differentiate between the groups, only practice with others. At 6 years into their careers, the international group practised 4.5 hrs/week more than the club wrestlers. At 20 years of age the international wrestlers had accumulated over 1000 more hours of practice with others compared to the club wrestlers. Evaluations of wrestling related activities showed that activities judged to be relevant were also rated high with regards to concentration and enjoyment. Diary data were collected from current wrestlers to validate the retrospective reports. The time spent in all wrestling related activities was comparable for the club and international wrestlers, however, the international wrestlers spent longer travelling to practice, which reflected the necessity to train at a club with the best sparring partners. Practice with others yielded high correlations between estimates for a typical week and the diary data for the international wrestlers. In conclusion Ericsson et al.'s definition of ≪deliberate practice≫ needs to be considered, especially as ≪relevancez≫ correlates highly with ≪enjoyment≫. It is recommended that future studies focus on what it is that motivates people to spend the necessary hours of practice to achieve expertise.
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Recent research in many different domains of expertise has shown that the large differences in performance between experts and novices are frequently reproducible under standardized conditions and can often be captured with representative tasks in the laboratory. Furthermore, these differences in performance are predominantly mediated by complex skills acquired over a decade, as a result of high daily levels of activities which are specially designed'to improve performance (deliberate practice). The effects of extended deliberate practice are remarkably far‐reaching and include physiological adaptations and qualitative changes in performance mediated by acquired cognitive skills. Most importantly, expert performers have acquired mental representations that allow them to plan and reason about potential courses of action and these representations also allow experts to monitor their performance, thus providing critical feedback for continued complex learning. The study of elite performance also reveals how acquired representation and skills provide the necessary tools for the ultimate eminent achievement, namely the generation of creative innovations to the domain. This paper is a revised and updated version of my keynote address at the international conference on Creativity & culture: Talent development in the arts and sciences sponsored by European Council on High Ability, Vienna, Austria, 19-22 October (22 October).