Defining elite athletes: issues in the study of expert performance in sport psychology

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dc.contributor.authorSwann, Christian
dc.contributor.authorMoran, Aidan P.
dc.contributor.authorPiggott, David Elsevieren
dc.identifier.citationPsychology of Sport and Exerciseen
dc.description.abstractObjectives: There has been considerable inconsistency and confusion in the definition of elite/expert athletes in sport psychology research, which has implications for studies conducted in this area and for the field as a whole. This study aimed to: (i) critically evaluate the ways in which recent research in sport psychology has defined elite/expert athletes; (ii) explore the rationale for using such athletes; and (iii) evaluate the conclusions that research in this field draws about the nature of expertise. Design: Conventional systematic review principles were employed to conduct a rigorous search and synthesise findings. Methods: A comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES and Academic Search Complete was completed in September, 2013 which yielded 91 empirical studies published between 2010 and 2013. The primarily qualitative findings were analysed thematically. Results: Eight ways of defining elite/expert athletes were identified, ranging from Olympic champions to regional level competitors and those with as little as two years of experience in their sport. Three types of rationale were evident in these studies (i.e., 'necessity', 'exploratory' and 'superior'); while findings also indicated that some elite athletes are psychologically idiosyncratic and perhaps even dysfunctional in their behaviour. Finally, only 19 of the 91 included studies provided conclusions about the nature of expertise in sport. Conclusions: This study suggests that the definitions of elite athletes vary on a continuum of validity, and the findings are translated into a taxonomy for classifying expert samples in sport psychology research in future. Recommendations are provided for researchers in this area.en
dc.rightsThis is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise (VOL 16, ISSUE Part 1, (2015)) DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.07.004en
dc.subjectCognitive psychologyen
dc.titleDefining elite athletes: issues in the study of expert performance in sport psychologyen
dc.typeJournal Articleen
dc.internal.availabilityFull text availableen
dc.statusPeer revieweden
dc.identifier.issuePart 1
dc.neeo.contributorMoran|Aidan P.|aut|-
dc.description.adminAuthor has checked copyrighten
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