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Original scientific paper

Expertise development in volleyball: the role of early sport activities and players’ age and height

Patrícia Coutinho ; Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D), Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Portugal
Isabel Mesquita ; Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport (CIFI2D), Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Portugal
António Manuel Fonseca
Jean Côte ; School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Canada

Full text: english pdf 789 Kb

page 215-225

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The purpose of this study was to analyse the developmental pathway of skilled and less skilled volleyball players by focusing on the quantity and type of sporting activities, as well as their age and height in comparison to peers in those experiences. Retrospective interviews were conducted to provide a longitudinal and detailed account of sport involvement of 30 skilled and 30 less skilled volleyball players (15 male and 15 female players per group) throughout different developmental stages (stage 1: 8-12 years; stage 2: 13-16 years; stage 3: 17-20 years). Results indicated that the developmental pathway of these volleyball players (i.e. skilled and less skilled) was characterized by an early diversified sport involvement with a greater participation in sport
activities during stages 1 and 2. However, skilled players specialized later in volleyball (between age 14 and 15) and performed more hours of volleyball at stage 3 (from 17 years of age onwards). Also, skilled players (male and female) were younger in both the diversified sport activities and volleyball at the later stages of development (i.e. stages 2 and 3), and skilled female players were taller than peers in those activities in the early stages of development (i.e. stages 1 and 2). The present findings suggest early diversification as a feasible pathway to reach expertise in volleyball and highlight the importance of practicing with older peers once specialization in the main sport has occurred. The findings highlight the need for coaches and sport programs to consider different stimuli existing within the training environment (i.e. characteristics of athletes, such as age and height) that influence the quality of practice and contribute to players’ expertise development.


talent development, sport experience, practice, age, height

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