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Thinking aloud: an exploration of cognitions in professional snooker

Welsh, James C.; Dewhurst, Stephen A.; Perry, John L.


James C. Welsh

John L. Perry


Objectives: Presently, there is no exploration into the cognitive processes of super-elite and elite professional snooker players during real-time performance. Therefore, this study explored the cognitions of seven professional snooker players during real-time solo practice performance. Design: A Think Aloud (TA) protocol analysis. Method: This involved players verbalizing and explaining their thoughts within naturalistic practice environments. Player’s verbalizations were recorded during each solo practice performance, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed via protocol analysis. Results: Analyses revealed an array of continuous reactive-adaptive cognitions relat-ing to stressors and coping strategies during performance, as well as general snooker-specific related thoughts. Specifically, the results highlighted key stressor themes which were coded as: Table Conditions, Distractions, and Mistakes. Our main finding was: Shot Preparation being essential to problem-focused coping, with Rationalizing integral to emotion-focused coping. Further results highlighted the visualperceptual and cognitive expertise of players, with regards to identification of problem balls and cueball spatial awareness, insofar as unearthing the delib-erate structure to practice routines. Conclusions: The study’s original and novel findings lend further support to the transactional process of coping. Whilst accordingly, the utilization of TA significantly contributed to our limited understanding of super-elite and elite real-time cogni-tions in professional snooker and self-paced sports generally. Future research should continue to dissect the sport-specific nuances that underpin real-time performance, not only during prac-tices, but within competitive play. TA is an appropriate methodology to use in the domain-specific sport of snooker.


Welsh, J. C., Dewhurst, S. A., & Perry, J. L. (2018). Thinking aloud: an exploration of cognitions in professional snooker. Psychology of sport and exercise, 36, 197-208.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 12, 2018
Publication Date 2018-05
Deposit Date Mar 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 13, 2019
Print ISSN 1469-0292
Electronic ISSN 1878-5476
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Pages 197-208
Keywords Coping; Think Aloud protocol; Professional snooker; Super-Elite; Cognitions; Practice
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Thinking Aloud: An exploration of cognitions in professional snooker; Journal Title: Psychology of Sport and Exercise; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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