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This field-based study analyzed effects of a deliberate-play training program in basketball on tactical game intelligence and tactical creativity. 22 youth basketball players, ages 10 to 12 years, completed basketball training in one of two equal-sized groups. The deliberate-play training program contained unstructured game forms in basketball. The placebo group played in traditional structured basketball game forms. Tactical intelligence and creativity was assessed before and after an 18-lesson intervention. Analysis showed significant training improvement only for the deliberate-play group. In addition, this outperformance of the placebo group was not only observed for tactical creativity but also for tactical intelligence.
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Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2010, 110, 3, 1-8. © Perceptual and Motor Skills 2010
DOI 10.2466/PMS.110.3. ISSN 0031-5125
1Address correspondence to Prof. Dr. Daniel Memmert, German Sport University Cologne,
Institute of Movement Science in Team Sports, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Köln,
Germany or e-mail (memmert@dshs-koeln.de).
THE EFFECT OF DELIBERATE PLAY ON TACTICAL
PERFORMANCE IN BASKETBALL1
PABLO GRECO
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
DANIEL MEMMERT
German Sport University Cologne
JUAN C. P. MORALES
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
Summary



-
         



Recent research has suggested that the perception of, and acting in,
-
ment of tactical performance 
       
Côté, 2008) 
et al-
          
Côté (1999) and Côté and Hay     
-
   -


     -
    

 
       -
     
team sports, this is similar to tactical decision making or simple game skill

P. GRECO, ET AL.
2
unusualness, innovativeness, statistical rareness, or even uniqueness of
solutions to a related task. In team sports, this particularly concerns tacti-
-




-
    
et al., 2003) seem to
-



      
           


  -
ing program.
        
  
         -

       
     -


-
-

on performance.

Participants and Design
-
ed voluntarily (MSD
  
-


   
     Informed consent
DELIBERATE PLAY AND BASKETBALL 3

Universidade Federal de Minas
Gerais
        -
   n   
game forms, e.g., playing in 1-on-1, 2-on-2, or 3-on-3 small-sided games
-

-




n -
           
-

         -

-
  

Fidelity of Instruction
     

n
       
     -
  -
 
       -

-
-
      
   
and the time spent in these segments calculated. In addition, sport activi-

Data-collection Procedures
For the tactical game-test situations
           -
-
P. GRECO, ET AL.
4

      
            -
(for
    

 scales for tactical in-in-
 All par-

-

to the hypotheses.
Data Analysis
       
-
      

         
  
-


Manipulation Check
    

  -
         
  
M SD -
M SD tp
M SD M 
SD tp-
tivities, the overall time spent in training units, and competitions outside

Tactical Performance
       
      
         
(F  p <  hp
2       F 
p < hp
2  F  p <  hp
2
DELIBERATE PLAY AND BASKETBALL 5

F p <  hp
2



      
-
        
       intelli-
F p <  hp
2F p <  hp
2
TABLE 2
 

 Group  Group
M SD M SD
Tactical intelligence
Time 1 4.39   0.85
Time 2 6.12 0.64  0.63
Tactical creativity
Time 1 3.18  3.00 0.88
Time 2 4.39  3.46 0.81
TABLE 1

Training Unit  Group  Group
Time (min.)  Time (min.) 
 201.3 20.0  19.0
Structured game forms   493.1 42.3
Unstructured game forms 591.6 58.8  23.3
Training competition 141.1 14.0  15.3
Total time 1,006.4 100 1,164.6 100

-
De Bruin, Smits, Rikers,
        
        
tactical intelligence in youth
-
-
ment in original solutions (tactical creativity) has negative consequenc-
        
  
P. GRECO, ET AL.
6
   
-
arity.
-
-

 et al   et al
          
-


          -
-
-

-
  -


-
-

creativity.

 So far, one cannot rule out t   
-
cording to motor skill, one can refer to some research on implicit learning

         -


-
  -
ate-play training group. 


-
ing programs in sports having high ecological validity.
-
nity to coaches and teachers to decide on the application of technical skills

varied set of similar activities for situations that athletes come across in
DELIBERATE PLAY AND BASKETBALL
competitive play. The essential characteristic centered in the tactics makes
-
          -

competition.
REFERENCES
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Journal of Applied Sport Psy-
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&
         
skill. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 
&The ecology of developmental processes.
Handbook of child psychology:  Theoretical
models of human development
&AUTHOR: Please add reference, cited on p. 1.
  The
Sport Psychologist, 
    &        

Ericsson (Eds.), Recent advances in research on sport expertise. -
man Kinetics. Pp. 89-110.
&-
tive. In J. M. Silva & D. Stevens (Eds.), Psychological foundations of sport.
Merrill. Pp. 484-502.
  &
practice predicts performance over time in adolescent chess players and drop-
British Journal of Psychology, 
&
       High
Ability Studies, 
The nature of human intelligence. 
Complete book of drills for winning basketball.
Hall.

motor skill acquisition. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 69, 104-110.
   -
High Ability Studies, 
        -
  Creativity Research
Journal, 19, 281-292.
&
International Journal of Computer Science
in Sport, 4, 29-38.
P. GRECO, ET AL.
8
 &          -
Journal of Sport Science, 
 &         
Human Movement Science, 28, 263-282.
&    
Journal of Sport Science, 25, 1423-1432.
Journal of Experimental Psy-
chology: General, 118, 219-235.
Creativity—theories and themes: research, development, and practice.

&The development
 -
Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30, 663-684.
Accepted May 14, 2010.
Deliberate Play in Basketball
1
The effect of deliberate play on tactical performance in basketball1
Pablo Greco
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
Daniel Memmert
German Sport University Cologne
Juan C. P. Morales
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
1Address correspondence to Prof. Dr. Daniel Memmert, German Sport University Cologne
Institute of Movement Science in Team Sports, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Köln,
Germany or e-mail (memmert@dshs-koeln.de).
Deliberate Play in Basketball
2
Summary.—This field-based study analyzed effects of a deliberate-play training
program in basketball on tactical game intelligence and tactical creativity. 22 youth basketball
players, ages 10 to 12 years, completed basketball training in one of two equal-sized groups.
The deliberate-play training program contained unstructured game forms in basketball. The
placebo group played in traditional structured basketball game forms. Tactical intelligence
and creativity was assessed before and after an 18-lesson intervention. Analysis showed
significant training improvement only for the deliberate-play group. In addition, this
outperformance of the placebo group was not only observed for tactical creativity but also for
tactical intelligence.
Deliberate Play in Basketball
3
Recent research has suggested that the perception of, and acting in, many different sport
game situations has a positive influence on improvement of tactical performance (see Berry,
Abernethy & Cote, 2008; Baker, Côté & Abernethy, 2003; Côté, Baker & Abernethy, 2003;
Memmert & Roth, 2007). More specifically, unstructured play-like involvement (Côté, et al.,
2003) seems to be crucial role in the development of tactical behavior in basketball, handball,
field hockey, and soccer. In this context, Côté (1999) and Côté and Hay (2002) introduced the
term “deliberate play” which refers to involvement in unstructured, play-oriented situations.
So far, no experimental research designs have been used to examine the effect of a deliberate-
play training program on tactical behaviour.
According to recent research by Memmert and colleagues (Memmert & Perl, 2005,
2009a,b; Memmert & Roth, 2007), tactical game intelligence and tactical creativity were
selected as dependent variables. The distinction between tactical game intelligence and
tactical creativity may pertain to the theoretical distinction between “convergent thinking” and
“divergent thinking” (Guilford, 1967; Runco, 2007). Convergent thinking refers to the ability
to find the ideal solution to a given problem. In team sports, this is similar to tactical decision
making or simple game skill (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982). In contrast, divergent thinking is
defined as the unusualness, innovativeness, statistical rareness, or even uniqueness of
solutions to a related task. In team sports, this particularly concerns tactical creativity which
produces varying, rare, and flexible decisions in different kinds of situations (Memmert &
Roth, 2007).
The efficacy of various training approaches in team ball sports for the development of
tactical creativity was investigated by Memmert and Roth (2007) who tested 135 children
about seven years old in a 15-month field-based study. Children participated either in non-
specific treatment groups, a specific handball, soccer, or field hockey group, or a control
group. Results showed non-specific experiences (deliberate play; Côté, et al., 2003) seem to
be a promising alternative to specific treatments. In a further study, Memmert and Perl (2005)
showed that game intelligence could be improved by various types of training programs (e.g.,
soccer, field hockey).
The present study was designed to expand on these previous findings (Memmert &
Perl, 2005, 2009a,b; Memmert & Roth, 2007) in three ways: (a) to show the effect of a
deliberate-play training program with youth; (b) generalization of the effect to other sport
Deliberate Play in Basketball
4
settings, for example, basketball; and (c) tactical game intelligence and tactical creativity need
to be measured simultaneously within the scope of a deliberate-play training program.
Thus, the influence of a deliberate-play basketball training method on the development
of both tactical performances in youth age 10 to 12 years was investigated. Previous research
suggests that about 18 training sessions are sufficient for that aim (Memmert, 2006). A
deliberate-play training program was hypothesized to have a positive effect on tactical
creativity and tactical game intelligence relative to the effect on a placebo group. From a
methodological perspective, a placebo groupand not only a control group with no training
units at allis required to rule out Hawthorne effects and familiarity effects. When all
participants just participate in a training program, this may generate motivational effects,
expectancy effects, or confirmation bias, and these may have a positive effect on
performance.
METHOD
Participants and Design
Twenty-two youth basketball players from different teams participated voluntarily
(M age = 11.1 yr., SD = .8). They were all boys and played in the FMBb (Federation of
Basketball of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil). Because of the average age of the participants
about 11 years, the youth basketball players had no experiences in competitive sport and only
marginal experiences in leisure sport (basketball: 17.9%; football: 14.3%; swimming: 3.6%;
volleyball: 3.6%). Past experiences as a covariate did not influence the results and were of no
further theoretical interest. Informed consent was obtained before commencing the study. In
addition, this project was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Universidade Federal de
Minas Gerais (COEP: EITC 499/05).
Two groups were constructed in a quasi-experimental research design. The deliberate-
play group (n=11) was taught within unstructured game forms, e.g., playing in 1 against 1, 2
against 2, or 3 against 3 small-sided games (for more details, see Table 1). Specifically, they
used more frequently activities of attack and defense in situations of numerical equality (1x1,
2x2, and 3x3), numerical inferiority (1x2, 2x3, and 3x4) and numerical superiority (2x1, 3x2,
and 4x3) as often happens in the formal game. Also tactical task conditions using game
situations of the type 1x1+1, 2x2+1, 3x3+1, and 4x4+1. “+1” means that this player helps the
team which has the ball, with the option to pass, but is not allowed to score.
Deliberate Play in Basketball
5
A placebo group (n=11) was taught with a traditional basketball training program (for
more details, see Lumsden, 2001; for more details, see Table 1). These training units typically
entailed a large amount of structured game exercise with exact guidelines. Specifically, they
used more isolated activities of skill training (e. g., dribbling, passes, throws) with and without a
defense player. Two coaches had been individually and specially trained for one of the
programs, insofar as all the games and exercises were introduced to the trainers and they were
under obligation to teach those in a given way.
Fidelity of Instruction
To verify the teaching methods in the two treatment groups, it was necessary to develop
a validation protocol. Through training observations by video recording in the training sections
(n = 18 sessions; about 60 min. long), six different types of training units (conversation with the
coach, stretching/warm-up, physical training, training in structured/unstructured game forms,
and training competition) were identified by two independent experts, and the time for each
category was measured. These types of training units were following the theory of ecological
development of Bronfrenbrenner and Morris (1998). Through interviews and direct observation
of the trainings of different kinds of collective sports, the classification of the activities was
established in the sessions of training, privileging the process-context-person-time. Break
periods for participants’ hydration and the transition from one activity to another were recorded
and the time spent in these segments calculated. In addition, sport activities outside the usual
training units, e.g., competitions, were registered.
Data-collection Procedures
For the tactical performance, the well-established game-test situations were used (e.g.,
Memmert & Perl, 2005; Memmert & Roth, 2007; Memmert & Perl, 2009a,b). These had been
tested for objectivity, reliability, and validity in many preliminary studies (cf. Memmert, 2006,
2007). In recurring comparable situations, tactical behavior in general basketball-specific
situations was evoked. The game-test situations contained basic tactical tasks in identification of
gaps and off-the-ball movements (for more details, see Memmert & Roth, 2007). Performance in
the game-test situations was recorded on videotape and judged by two raters who used
subsequent concept-oriented, 11-point expert rating scales for tactical intelligence and tactical
creativity (see for details, Memmert, 2007). All participants in the two groups were tested before
(Time 1) and on conclusion (Time 2) of the 18-lesson training program. No communication was
possible between any of the groups or any trainers. Both coaches were blind to the hypotheses.
Data Analysis
Deliberate Play in Basketball
6
Performance on the game-test situations was analyzed statistically using a 2 (group:
deliberate-play group vs placebo group) × 2 (tactic: intelligence vs creativity) × 2 (time; Time 1
vs. Time 2) mixed, randomized analysis of variance with repeated measurements on the last two
factors. Planned comparisons were carried out to compare the performance of both groups on
each dependent measure, respectively. An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical
comparisons, and effect sizes were calculated, power evaluated.
RESULTS
Manipulation Check
Overall, both experts analyzing the training units showed excellent agreement in their
classification and in the measurement of the different training times in each category, as the
intraclass correlation was .92. According to the nature of both training programs, significant
differences occurred between the two training groups only in the two unstructured categories
(deliberate-play group: M= 32.9 min. per unit, SD= 22.7 vs. placebo group: M= 15.1 , SD=
14.9; t34= -7.82, p < .001) and structured training forms (deliberate-play group: M= 4.0, SD=
5.5 vs. placebo group: M= 27.4, SD= 11.4; t34
All intra-judge reliability coefficients for both dependent variables were above the
crucial limit of .90. For mean data presented in Table 2, significant temporal effect was evident
across the two measuring times (F= 33.91, p < .001;
η
= 2.78, p < .01). No differences in the other
types of training activities, the overall time spent in training units, and competitions outside of
the training were noted (see Table 1).
Tactical Performance
p2 = .63). In addition, a significant group
effect (F= 8.57, p < .01;
η
p2 = .30) and a tactic effect (F= 300.00, p < .001;
η
p2 = .94) were
found. The significant interaction of group by time demonstrated a difference in performances
between training courses (F= 8.22, p < .05;
η
p2 = .29). No other interaction was significant.
To test the interaction effect and the differences between the groups, a series of simple
one-way analyses of variance were conducted for the two measurement times. No significant
differences in tactical intelligence or tactical creativity were found in the placebo group over the
two measurement times, respectively. In contrast, the deliberate-play group showed significant
improvement in both dependent variables over time (intelligence: F= 53.09, p < .001,
η
p2 = .84;
creativity: F= 27.17, p < .001,
η
p2
Comment [SAI1]:
= .73).
Table 1 here
Comment [SAI2]:
Table 2 here
Deliberate Play in Basketball
7
DISCUSSION
The analysis and evaluation of deliberate practice expertise is currently a scientific and
hot topic among investigators (Ford, Ward, Hodges & Williams, 2009; De Bruin, Smits,
Rikers & Schmidt, 2008; Weissensteiner, Abernethy, Farrow & Mueller, 2008). The first
purpose of this study was to assess whether tactical creativity and tactical intelligence in
youth might be improved by using a deliberate-play training program in basketball. The
second aim was to evaluate whether this hypothesized improvement in original solutions
(tactical creativity) has negative consequences for the best tactical solutions (tactical
intelligence) because relatively unstructured training forms were used. A relatively
demanding placebo group was included to ensure any benefit of training would be due to a
meaningful training effect rather than to confirmation bias or test familiarity.
First of all, one could confirm the hypothesis that the deliberate-play training program
had positive effects on tactical creativity as this would confirm findings by Memmert and
Roth (2007). Such a finding would expand the effect of deliberate-play” (Baker, et al., 2003;
Côté, et al., 2003) with youth of 10 to 12 years of age in basketball. Participants of the
placebo group, in contrast, essentially showed no significant improvement in performance
over the two measurement times. This shows that improvement in performance is a
meaningful training effect.
In addition, the main effect tacticis consistent with previous research (Memmert &
Perl, 2005; Memmert & Roth, 2007) phrasing tactical intelligence is more developed in youth
basketball players than tactical creativity. More importantly, not only was tactical creativity
improved with the deliberate-play groups, but also tactical intelligence. No interference
occurred from training tactical game intelligence together with tactical creativity. This
expanded the findings of Memmert and Roth (2007) which showed only effects for tactical
creativity. Pragmatically, this means that unstructured game situations worked well for
training both components of tactical performance measured here. Specificially, play
constellations 1x1+1, 2x2+1, 3x3+1, 4x4+1 are a possibility to develop tactical creativity.
Further research should address the potential limitations of this field-based study. So
far, one cannot rule out that the placebo group showed improvement on other variables like
endurance or skill performance. According to motor skill, one can refer to some research on
implicit learning (e.g., Reber, 1989) which shows this point is highly unlikely. Findings from
motor learning would suggest that implicit learning mechanism inferred from the execution
and training of motor skills is the same or even better than an explicit learning mechanism
Deliberate Play in Basketball
8
(for a review, Magill, 1998). Thus, to some extent, possible motor learning improvement in
the placebo group is likely not greater than learning improvement in the deliberate-play
training group. In addition, several moderator variables could be taken into consideration, as
these might have influenced the results of the current field-based project (e.g., individual
coaching style). Nevertheless, further reseach should be focused more on the evaluation of
real-life training programs in sports having high ecological validity.
The deliberate-play training program in basketball offers an opportunity to coaches
and teachers to decide on the application of technical skills in the context of real world
situations of the training. Thus, it presents a varied set of similar activities for situations that
athletes comes across in the competitive play. The essential characteristic centered in the
tactics makes possible the understanding of the play as well as the acquisition of an
appropriate level of tactical knowledge which is important to be successful in finding
solutions for different typical problems that show up in the competition.
Deliberate Play in Basketball
9
References
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Berry, J., Abernethy, B., & Cote, J. (2008) The contribution of structured activity and
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Côté, J. (1999) The influence of the family in the development of talent in sport. The Sport
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De Bruin, A. B. H., Smits, N., Rikers, R. M. J. P., & Schmidt, H. G. (2008) Deliberate
practice predicts performance over time in adolescent chess players and dropouts: a
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Memmert, D. & Perl, J. (2005) Game intelligence analysis by means of a combination of
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Deliberate Play in Basketball
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Memmert, D. & Perl, J. (2009a) Game creativity analysis by means of neural networks.
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Accepted May 14, 2010.
Deliberate Play in Basketball
11
Table 1
Mean Time Spent in Various Training Units by Two Training Groups
Placebo group
Time
(min.)
Play
(%)
Time
(min.)
Play
(%)
Conversation with coach
201.3
20.0%
221.7
19.0%
Structured game forms
72.5
7.2%
493.1
42.3%
Unstructured game forms 591.6 58.8% 271.3 23.3%
Training competition
141.1
14.0%
178.5
15.3%
Total time
1006.4
100%
1164.6
100%
Deliberate Play in Basketball
12
Table 2. Ratings of Training Performance in Tactical Intelligence and Creativity: Means and
Standard Deviations For Two Training Groups at Both Measurement Times
Deliberate-play group
Placebo group
M
SD
M
SD
Tactical intelligence
Time 1
4.39
0.57
4.17
0.85
Time 2
6.12
0.64
4.67
0.63
Tactical creativity
Time 1
3.18
0.72
3.00
0.88
Time 2
4.39
0.74
3.46
0.81
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An integrative introduction to the theories and themes in research on creativity, the second edition of Creativity is both a reference work and text for courses in this burgeoning area of research. The book begins with a discussion of the theories of creativity (Person, Product, Process, Place), the general question of whether creativity is influenced by nature or nurture, what research has indicated of the personality and style of creative individuals from a personality analysis standpoint, and how social context affects creativity. This wide-ranging work then proceeds to coverage of issues such as gender differences, whether creativity can be enhanced, if creativity is related to poor mental or physical health, and much more. The book contains boxes covering special interest items, including one-page biographies of famous creative individuals, and activities for a group or individual to test or encourage creativity, as well as references to Internet sites relating to creativity. Includes all major theories and perspectives on creativity. Consolidates recent research into a single source. Includes key terms defined and text boxes with interesting related material. Single authored for clarity and consistency of presentation.