French, K. E. (1997). Knowledge content, sport-specific strategies and other self-talk accessed by shortstops of different ages during defensive game performance. Dissertation Abstracts International-A, 57(07), 2940.

This study described the developmental changes in knowledge content, sport-specific strategies, and self-talk accessed during game performance of youth baseball shortstops. Male shortstops (seven 8-year-olds, eight 10-year-olds, nine 12-year-olds, and eight high school age youths) were trained to perform a concurrent talk-aloud procedure before and between pitches to the opposing batter. Ss' transcripts were analyzed using a coding systems. Ss also completed a 40 question multiple choice baseball test.

Players' age was highly correlated with their baseball knowledge and any age differences generally reflected differences in players' knowledge. During game play, high school players accessed more total concepts, a greater variety of concepts and had more baseball knowledge than the younger shortstops. Player's baseball knowledge developed across age based on a hierarchical goal structure with the high school shortstops accessing larger, more integrated chunks of action sequences related to advanced goals. Younger shortstops (12-year-olds and under) produced the following sport-specific game-use strategies: (i) monitoring the environment; and (ii) prediction of future game events. However, the quality of these strategies was poor. Younger shortstops frequently did not produce the following sport-specific strategies: (i) specialized search and retrieval of long-term memory; (ii) planning in advance; (iii) rehearsal of plans; (iv) modifications or updating of plans; and (v) acting as external memory aid for teammates. When they did produce these sport-specific strategies, the quality was generally poor. High school shortstops produced all of these sport-specific strategies more often than the younger shortstops with advanced quality.

Implication. It was suggested that highly organized content knowledge is required for the development of sport-specific strategies, which may mediate game performance.

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