Protocol Analysis and Juggling Expertise: A Multi-Case Study

Nataniel Boiangin, FSU Ice Hockey, USA

Theme: Elite performance

Program ID: LEC-06B

Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Magnolia


The purpose was to identify, based on the expert-performance approach (Ericsson, 2006), potential mediating mechanisms linked to juggling expertise. Three male college-aged jugglers representing different skill levels (i.e., high, intermediate, low) participated in the study. The jugglers were asked to perform under standardized (i.e., control) and non-standardized (i.e., occluded vision, vision with impaired tactile, juggling with large objects such as volleyballs) conditions. They reported self-efficacy (see guidelines by Bandura, 1997), entity and incremental beliefs (Wang, Liu, Biddle, Stuart, & Spray, 2005), and had their heart rate (HR) and skin conductance responses (SCR) monitored (Thought Technology Biofeedback Suite) throughout the experimental conditions. Verbal protocols, in the form of retrospective reports (Ericsson & Simon, 1993), were collected immediately after each trial to gain insight on potential mediating mechanisms linked to successful performance. The number of uninterrupted successful juggling cycles was videotaped (JVC GZ-MS230 Camcorder video camera) and served as the performance measure. The jugglers did not differ in their self-efficacy, entity and improvement beliefs (p > .05). Furthermore, HR and SCR were negatively correlated with performance ( r = -.41, r = -.55, respectively), suggesting that poor performance was accompanied by higher physiological activation. The “impaired tactile” condition represented the greatest challenge for the jugglers (as the jugglers changed their “grasping method”), supporting the notion that major changes in motor-cognitive skills are associated with performance decline due to lack of task-specific mental representations (Tenenbaum, 2003). Protocol analysis revealed that “spatial location control” was the key-factor mediating juggling expertise. Collectively, these findings are congruent with the notion that complex mental representations underlie juggling performance across levels of proficiency (high, intermediate, and low skill) (Ericsson, 2003; 2007). From an applied perspective, findings exemplify the applicability of idiographic protocol analysis in eliciting meta-cognitive and meta-emotional experiences underlying expert performance in sports (Ericsson, 2007; Hanin, 2007).

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