A Developmental Approach to Sport Expertise

Jean Côté and Bruce Abernethy

in The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199731763
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

A Developmental Approach to Sport Expertise

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  • Health Psychology
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This chapter examines the personal and contextual factors of youth sport that affect sport expertise and developmental outcomes. The developmental model of sport participation (DMSP) is used as a comprehensive framework that outlines different pathways of involvement in sport. Activities and contexts that promote continued sport participation and expert performance are discussed as the building blocks of all effective youth sport programs. This chapter provides evidence that performance in sport, participation, and psychosocial development should be considered as a whole instead of as separate entities by youth sport programmers. Adults in youth sport (i.e., coaches, parents, sport psychologists, administrators) must consider the differing implications of concepts such as deliberate play, deliberate practice, sampling, specialization, and program structure at different stages of an athlete's talent development. Seven postulates are presented regarding important transitions in youth sport and the role that sampling and deliberate play, as opposed to specialization and deliberate practice, can have during childhood in promoting continued participation and elite performance in sport.

Keywords: Performance; expertise; talent development; sport programs; youth sport

Article.  9332 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Organizational Psychology

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