Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of this paper was to examine the relation of sport specific knowledge to the development of skilled basketball performance in children. Three experiments were conducted. The first experiment established the reliability and validity of instruments used to measure basketball knowledge, dribbling skill, shooting skill and individual components of offensive basketball performance--control, decisions, and execution. The second experiment compared expert and novice basketball players in two age leagues, an 8- to 10-year-old league and an 11- to 12-year-old league, on the individual components of performance and on measures of basketball knowledge, dribbling skill, and shooting skill. The cognitive decision making component maximally discriminated expert and novice basketball players and expert players of both age groups possessed more shooting skill and more basketball knowledge. Canonical analysis indicated that basketball knowledge was related to decision making skill in basketball, whereas dribbling and shooting skill were related to the motor components of control and execution. Experiment 3 examined the changes in the individual components of performance, basketball knowledge, dribbling skill, and shooting skill from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. Subjects improved in the cognitive decision making component of performance across the course of the season and basketball knowledge increased from the beginning to the end of the season. Only basketball knowledge was a significant predictor of the decision making component at the end of the season. The overall results of Experiments 2 and 3 indicate that the development of the sport knowledge base plays a salient role in skilled sport performance of children. In particular, many of the deficits of young children in youth sports may be due to lack of sufficient sport knowledge which is necessary to make appropriate decisions within the context of sport.