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Visual–perceptual And Cognitive Differences Between Expert, Intermediate, And Novice Snooker Players

Bruce Abernethy, Robert J. Neal, Paul de Koning
Published 1994 · Psychology
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The performance of seven expert, seven intermediate, and 15 novice snooker players was compared on a range of general visual tests and sport-specific perceptual and cognitive tests in an attempt to determine the locus of the expert advantage. No significant expert-novice differences were apparent on standard optometric tests of acuity, ocular muscle balance, colour vision, and depth perception, nor on the relative frequency of unilateral and cros-lateral eye-hand dominances. Experts, however, were found to be superior in their ability to both recall and recognize rapidly-presented slides depicting normal game situations, but were no better than novices in recalling information from slides in which the balls were arranged randomly on the table. The expert group's superiority on the perceptual recall and recognition tasks was consistent with a deeper level of encoding for structured (meaningful) material. Experts were also shown, through the use of thinking-aloud and evaluation paradigms, to use a greater depth of forward planning in choosing appropriate shot options and to evaluate existing situations with greater accuracy, discriminability, and prospective planing than did novices. The cognitive advantage is shown to be a potential contributor but not a total explanation of the superior performance of the experts on the perceptual tasks. The findings of this study are consistent with existing works on expertise in board games and ‘open’ skill sports in indicating that the expert's advantage is not a general but a specific one, arising not from physical capacities but from acquired processing strategies.

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