In Pursuit of a Comprehensive Understanding of Expertise Development : A Comparison between Paths to World-Class Performance in Complex Technical vs. Endurance Demanding Sports
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAalberg, M., Roaas, T. V., Aune, M. A., Bjerke, Ø., Aune, T. K. (2022). In pursuit of a comprehensive understanding of expertise development: A comparison between paths to world-class performance in complex technical vs. endurance demanding sports. Sports, 10, 16. doi: 10.3390/sports10020016
A comprehensive understanding of skill acquisition is important for different performance domains, and has practical implications for both sport sciences and public health. The study compared important constraints for expertise development in a physically demanding sport (cross-country skiing) versus a technically demanding sport (freeskiing). Eighteen world-class athletes reported the importance of different constraints for their developmental history subdivided into two age spans: (1) 7–15 years and (2) 16 years until present. The total amount of training did not differ between the groups, but from the age of 16, the cross-country skiers spend approximately 98% of their training specific to their main sport, compared to 75% for freeskiers. No differences were found between the distribution of organized versus non-organized training in main sport, but freeskiers reported a higher amount of unorganized training in other sports after the age of 16. No differences were found in perceived importance of facilities, enjoyment of performing their sport, or the need for early specialization of training. After the age of 16, the cross-country skiers reported a higher need for coach involvement compared to freeskiers. The two sports mainly share common paths to expertise but differ in the need for specific training and coach involvement.