Williams, A. Mark, Ward, Paul, Bell-Walker, J. and Ford, P. R. (2012) Perceptual-cognitive expertise, practice history profiles and recall performance in soccer. British Journal of Psychology, 103 (3). pp. 393-411. ISSN 0007-1269

We examined whether high- or low-performing soccer players, classified based on established measures of perceptual-cognitive expertise, differed in regard to their practice history profiles and ability to recall elements of match performance. In Study 1, we measured perceptual-cognitive expertise in elite (n= 48) and non-elite (n= 12) youth soccer players using empirical tests of perceptual-cognitive skill. We then used a quartile split to stratify elite players into either high-performing (n= 12) or low-performing (n= 12) groups based on their test scores. A group of non-elite soccer players (n= 12) acted as controls. In Study 2, we used an established questionnaire to examine retrospectively the participation history profiles of the three groups. The high-performing group had accumulated more hours in soccer-specific play activity over the last 6 years of engagement in the sport compared to their low-performing counterparts and the non-elite controls. No differences were reported for hours accumulated in soccer-specific practice or competition between the high- and low-performing groups. In Study 3, a novel test was developed to examine episodic memory recall in soccer. Although this test successfully differentiated elite from non-elite players, no differences were evident between high- and low-performing groups, implying that episodic memory recall may not be a crucial component of perceptual-cognitive expertise in soccer.

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