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Percept Mot Skills. 1998 Jun;86(3 Pt 1):899-912.

Differences in several perceptual abilities between experts and novices in basketball, volleyball and water-polo.

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Democritus University of Thrace, Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Komotini, Greece.


The aim of this study was to examine differences between experts and novices in a number of perceptual abilities. Three groups of elite athletes, 44 members of Greek national teams in basketball (n = 12), volleyball (n = 13), and water-polo (n = 19) were selected. Two groups of physical education students (ns = 18 and 21) were novices. The measured abilities were selected as the most important for an elite athlete by expert coaches in the three sports. The four most frequently selected abilities for each sport, according to the coaches' opinions, were finally assessed. Analysis showed that differences were fewer than expected. Basketball experts were better on prediction and selective attention. Volleyball experts performed better on perceptual speed, focused attention, prediction, and estimation of speed and direction of a moving object. Water-polo players had significantly better scores than the novices on decision-making, visual reaction time, and spatial orientation. It seems that the nature of each sport strongly influences the way perceptual abilities differentiate elite athletes from novices.

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