Performance milestones in the development of expertise: Are they critical?

Document Type

Journal Article


Taylor and Francis


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Applied Sport Psychology on 17 April 2013 as: Bruce, L., Farrow, D., & Raynor, A. J. (2013). Performance milestones in the development of expertise: Are they critical? . Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25(3), 281-297. Available online here


Fifty-seven female netballers completed a training history profile to examine whether the achievement of performance milestones and/or accumulation of sport-specific practice were indicative of an athlete's level of expertise. Similar to previous research, results revealed that expert and developmental athletes accumulated a greater number of hours in netball-specific practice relative to the recreational participants, but did not differ in the number of sports played or hours accumulated in non-netball specific practice. Interestingly, some performance milestones were achieved by the expert and developmental athletes earlier than the recreational participants, however, the developmental athletes achieved a number of milestones at an earlier age than the experts. These findings are discussed in relation to contemporary models of skill development, namely deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993) and the developmental model of sport participation (Côté, 1999) and the underpinning socio-environmental factors that may influence sport participation and subsequent development of expertise.