Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #527
CE Offered: BACB
Theory-Based Research on Conditions of Practice and the Development of Expertise in Sports
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
10:00 AM–11:20 AM
Williford B
Area: EDC/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Elise Cooke (Holliston Public Schools)
Discussant: Eric J. Hörst (Training for Climbing)
CE Instructor: John Stokes, M.S.

A growing body of research supports behavior analytic approaches to the development of expertise in sports/athletics. In his 2007 Presidential Scholars Address at ABA, K. Anders Ericsson bridged his largely cognitive approach to the development of elite-level performance with an operant approach. Research on Ericssons model of deliberate practice applied to sports, combined with investigations of athletic performance in the behavior analysis literature, have expanded the basis for which innovative research may emerge. The first paper in this symposium reviews this research and offers directions for future research. The second paper presents just such an innovative investigation, the application of functional analysis methodology to the data-based assessment of reinforcement contingencies for individual high school football players. Similarly, the third paper presents the results of an intervention in which high school football coaches utilized traditional observation versus the use of conditional probability data to determine defensive plays.

A Review of Research and Operant Analysis of Ericsson’s Model of Deliberate Practice Applied to Athletic Performance.
RICHARD K. FLEMING (Shriver Center/University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Abstract: At ABA 2007, K. Anders Ericsson presented the Presidential Scholar’s Address, entitled The Acquisition of Skilled and Expert Performance through Deliberate Practice. Ericsson bridged his largely cognitive analysis of the development of elite performance with an operant analysis. His presentation touched upon athletic expertise, and indeed a growing body of descriptive research has been published in support of this model of deliberate practice and elite-level performance. The purpose of this paper is to review the extant research on Ericsson’s model of deliberate practice applied to sports/athletics; analyze the research questions and methodology from an operant perspective; and suggest opportunities for behavior analytic research on the relationship between conditions of practice and the development of high levels of expertise.
Functional Analysis of Athletic Performance.
JOHN STOKES (Simmons College)
Abstract: Using a multielement design, this study investigated the effects of environmental stimuli on the athletic performance of high school football and lacrosse players. Three conditions were used to determine environmental control: escape, coach attention and peer attention. The dependent variable was tackling behavior, which was task-analyzed and broken down into 5 separate behaviors. All sessions were video taped and coaches were trained in data collection and in providing consequences. The results indicated that the methodology was effective in distinguishing specific environmental variables controlling player behavior. Results were used to prescribe reinforcement contingencies that were successful in increasing tackling performance in all athletes and to design teaching procedures for new coaches. Inter-observer agreement was collected for 100% of trials, with a mean of 82.34%. Results are displayed graphically.
The Use of Conditional Probability Data for Play Calling in High School Football.
JOHN STOKES (Simmons College), Peter Flynn (Billerica High School)
Abstract: Using a reversal design, this study investigated the effects of using conditional probability data on coaches' calling effective defensive plays for a high school football team. During baseline, coaches called plays based only on visual analysis of the opponents' offensive play during games. In the intervention phase, coaches utilized conditional probability data to call defensive plays in games. Results indicated that during the intervention yards gained in rushing and passing, touch downs and first downs were less then during baseline conditions. Interobserver data was taken for 100% of session with a mean IOA of 95%. Data are displayed graphically.



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