The contribution of structured activity and deliberate play to the development of expert perceptual and decision-making skill

J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2008 Dec;30(6):685-708. doi: 10.1123/jsep.30.6.685.


The developmental histories of 32 players in the Australian Football League (AFL), independently classified as either expert or less skilled in their perceptual and decision-making skills, were collected through a structured interview process and their year-on-year involvement in structured and deliberate play activities retrospectively determined. Despite being drawn from the same elite level of competition, the expert decision-makers differed from the less skilled in having accrued, during their developing years, more hours of experience in structured activities of all types, in structured activities in invasion-type sports, in invasion-type deliberate play, and in invasion activities from sports other than Australian football. Accumulated hours invested in invasion-type activities differentiated between the groups, suggesting that it is the amount of invasion-type activity that is experienced and not necessarily intent (skill development or fun) or specificity that facilitates the development of perceptual and decision-making expertise in this team sport.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Australia
  • Decision Making*
  • Human Development
  • Humans
  • Perception*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Soccer*
  • Time Factors