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Previous research by Bloom (1985) and Côté (1999) illustrated the developmental patterns of elite athletes. Additionally, Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Romer (1993) introduced the theory of deliberate practice, which has since attempted to explicate elite athletic achievement. These three primary areas of research into the development of athletic expertise have drawn cause-and-effect relationships between environmental factors and sport achievement level, minimizing possible predisposing natural factors and neglecting the impact of any potential interactions among factors. The current study is the first to interview very accomplished athletes (i.e., swimmers) of differing achievement levels, a parent of each, and their coach. The objective of this study was to uncover potential reasons for performance differences among athletes who experienced similar developmental and training backgrounds, i.e., competed for the same team and coach and grew up in families with similar resources. Analyses of qualitative and quantitative data support and clarify a 4-factor, interactive systemic model. These four factors, as they relate to the development of athletic expertise, include: (a) high effort factors, (b) environmental factors, (c) coping factors, and (d) physically and psychologically predisposing factors. All four are likely required to become an elite athlete, and must be present in such a manner that they are systematically and idiosyncratically functional for the athlete in his or her unique environment, as each by itself may be inadequate to reach expert performance. "Hard work beats talent until talent decides to work hard." Coach of swimmers E4, S4a, and S4b
Development of Athletic Expertise, Sport Psychology, Competitive Swimming
Date of Defense
June 17, 2005.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Gershon Tenenbaum, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Gary Peterson, Professor Co-Directing Dissertation; Charles Imwold, Outside Committee Member; Steven I. Pfeiffer, Committee Member; Alysia D. Roehrig, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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