Characteristics of Expert Development in Rhythmic Gymnastics: A Retrospective Study
Law, Madelyn P.
Ericsson, K. Anders
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The development of expertise for two groups of rhythmic gymnasts was studied where a group of elite (Olympic) gymnasts was compared to a group of sub‐elite (International) gymnasts. Structured interviews were used to collect retrospective information about the gymnasts’ health, training resources, level and ranking, and hours spent in training activities. The gymnasts rated practice activities during the last period of their development (age 16 and older) with respect to their perceived physical effort, mental concentration, and fun. The Olympic gymnasts were involved in significantly fewer activities and sports throughout their development compared to the International gymnasts. All gymnasts reported engaging in five practice activities of warm‐up, ballet, technique training, routines, and conditioning in their rhythmic gymnastics training. Olympic gymnasts allocated substantially more time to the practice activities of ballet, technique, routines, and conditioning, compared to the International gymnasts. Olympic gymnasts also rated their health as lower than the International gymnasts. All gymnasts reported that the practice activities of technique and routine training required more physical effort and mental concentration than warm‐up, ballet, and conditioning. The Olympic gymnasts reported experiencing less fun in their participation overall. The findings of this study provide a comprehensive description of early activity involvement, training activities, training resources, and health and injury ratings of expert level rhythmic gymnasts and help to further the understanding of how to assess sport expertise development