Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Sport Studies

Major Professor

Jeffrey T. Fairbrother

Committee Members

Gene Hayes, Lars Dzikus

Abstract

Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer (1993) forwarded a general framework to account for the characteristics and developmental experiences of individuals who have acquired exceptional performance in any domain. This framework proposed that experts undergo an extensive acquisition period involving the accumulation of thousands of hours of deliberate practice while overcoming various constraints that serve as functional barriers to the achievement of expertise. The purpose of this study was to examine expert disability-sport athletes to determine how well their experiences and characteristics were captured by Ericsson et al.’s (1993) framework. In Part I, quad rugby players recalled the amount of time spent in individual and team practice activities, quad rugby related activities, and daily life activities at the start of their career and every two years since. In Part II, these activities were rated with respect to relevance to improving performance, effort and concentration required, and enjoyment of participation. Findings revealed that quad rugby athletes engaged in similar amounts of practice throughout their career to those observed in superior performers across domains, including Ericsson et al.’s musicians and expert performers in the able-bodied sport domain (e.g., Helsen, Starkes, & Hodges, 1998). Contrary to the original deliberate practice framework as described by Ericsson et al. (1993), results indicated that disability-sport athletes did not rate the most relevant and effortful activities as low on enjoyment..

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