Expertise and mental practice

Authored by: Aidan Moran

Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138022423
eBook ISBN: 9781315777054
Adobe ISBN: 9781317692324


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Whether out of envy or admiration, we have long been fascinated by the breath-taking feats of elite athletes, like the footballer Lionel Messi, who can perform apparently impossible skills with remarkable consistency and precision. Not surprisingly, this fascination with world-class performance has spawned considerable psychological research over the past decade on the nature and determinants of “expertise” or the growth of specialist knowledge and skills through effortful experience (see review by Swann, Moran, & Piggott, 2015). To illustrate, this topic has featured in special issues of academic periodicals such as the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology (Williams & Ericsson, 2008), Intelligence (Detterman, 2014), and Psychology of Sport and Exercise (Raab & Harwood, 2015). It has also generated scholarly tomes (e.g., Baker & Farrow, 2015; Campitelli, Connors, Bilalic, & Hambrick, 2015) and captured the interest of cognitive researchers (e.g., Ericsson & Towne, 2013) and popular science writers alike (e.g., Gladwell, 2009; Syed, 2010).

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