Understanding Sport Expertise through a Cultural Perspective: An Exploratory Study

Elmer A. Castillo *, Jean-Charles Lebeau **, Seongkwan Cho ***, Camilo Sáenz-Moncaleano **** and Graig M. Chow *****

(*) Magellan Federal – Columbia, SC, USA
(**) Ball State University – Muncie, IN, USA
(***) Texas A&M International University – Laredo, TX,USA
(****) Private Practice – Malmö, Sweden
(*****) University of California – Berkeley, CA, USA


A. Castillo, E., Lebeau, J., Cho, S., Sáenz-Moncaleano, C., M. Chow, G. (2022). Understanding Sport Expertise through a Cultural Perspective: An Exploratory Study. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 53(2), 99-118. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2022.53.099


Cultural sport psychology has emerged as an important area within the field of applied sport psychology, but little research has been done on the cultur- al factors impacting sport expertise development. Employing Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory as a guiding framework, the present study examined the development of sport expertise through a cultural lens. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten elite athletes who had represented their re- spective countries in major international events. Our findings permeated three layers of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of development: microsystem (fami- ly and coach-athlete relationship), mesosystem (sport culture), and macrosystem (country culture), and indicate that culture is a salient factor that influences the development of elite athletic performance. Culture was found to be a multifaceted phenomenon ranging from broad cultural layers such as values and norms within a country to more specific layers such as the sport culture within a family, the com- munity atmosphere within the sport, and customs in the coach-athlete relationship. These findings contribute to the growing body of research in cultural sport psy- chology and enhance cross-cultural understandings of talent development in sport.

Keywords: Expertise development, Talent development, Cultural sport psy- chology, Culture