Perceptual-cognitive-motor skills, such as visual anticipation, are pivotal for superior performance in sport. However, there are only a limited number of skill acquisition specialists working with coaches to develop these skills in athletes. The purpose of this paper is to present a brief reflection on the use of psychological strategies to create an autonomy-supportive environment to embed a skill acquisition research project in high-performance sport. The research project was conducted with the Australian national field hockey high-performance unit and investigated individual differences in expert goalkeepers’ visual anticipation. The paper first discusses the role of a skill acquisition specialist, how they collaborate with coaches and athletes, and barriers to collaboration. The paper then outlines how psychological strategies can be used to create an autonomy-supportive environment to build a relationship and establish a research collaboration with a team. Further, the paper discusses the importance of continually involving coaches and athletes in the research process to facilitate their engagement and self-determined motivation to complete the project. By applying psychological strategies to create an autonomy-supportive environment, sports scientists may have greater success in overcoming the many barriers to conduct research in an elite sport setting, with the outcomes highly valuable for athlete development.


skill acquisition specialist, autonomy-support, perceptual-cognitive-motor skills, coaching, high-performance sport

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