A novel, representative task was used to examine skill-based differences in the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying performance on a dynamic, externally paced task. Skilled and less skilled soccer players were required to move and interact with life-size, action sequences involving 11 versus 11 soccer situations filmed from the perspective of a central defender in soccer. The ability of participants to anticipate the intentions of their opponents and to make decisions about how they should respond was measured across two separate experiments. In Experiment 1, visual search behaviors were examined using an eye-movement registration system. In Experiment 2, retrospective verbal reports of thinking were gathered from a new sample of skilled and less skilled participants. Skilled participants were more accurate than less skilled participants at anticipating the intentions of opponents and in deciding on an appropriate course of action. The skilled players employed a search strategy involving more fixations of shorter duration in a different sequential order and toward more disparate and informative locations in the display when compared with the less skilled counterparts. The skilled players generated a greater number of verbal report statements with a higher proportion of evaluation, prediction, and planning statements than the less skilled players, suggesting they employed more complex domain-specific memory representations to solve the task. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.
- Expert performance
- Representative task simulation
- Visual search
- Verbal reports