Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Physical Education

First Advisor

Karen E French


Two frameworks have been proposed to for the development of sport expertise; early specialization (Ericsson et al., 1993) and early diversification (Cote, 1999). Ericsson et al. suggested expertise develops from early entry into a domain and engagement in thousands of hours of specialized practice activities during childhood and adolescence. Cote (1999) proposed athletes benefit from participation in a variety of sports and playful activities at young ages and delaying specialization in one sport until adolescence. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the retrospective practice histories of college female basketball players support the predictions of Ericsson and Cote.

College female basketball players in North and South Carolina completed a questionnaire to obtain the player's sports history, estimates of practice activities and competitions in five venues (recreational leagues, AAU, scholastic teams, private training, and pick-up games), and ratings of relevance, effort, concentration, and enjoyment of practice activities. Estimates of accumulated hours of practice (M = 3,865) were slightly lower than practice hours reported by Australian international basketball players and lower than the 10,000 hours suggested as necessary to reach expertise. The most relevant and enjoyable practice activities for female basketball players included team scrimmages and shooting alone. Findings support Ericsson's predictions of early entry and increasing accumulation of hours of practice with increased age. Player development appeared to be facilitated by both focused practice and playful basketball activities as suggested by Cote. The findings more

closely resemble the early engagement hypothesis (Ford et al. 2009). Ford and colleagues suggested early entry into the primary sport and the accumulation of deliberate practice and deliberate play were essential to the development of sport expertise.


© 2012, Anthony Steven Smith