Prior experience is the transfer of skills from one context to another allowing the athlete to learn new similar skills faster than people who have no prior experience. Skill transfer can be lateral or vertical. Lateral transfer is easy and is the transfer of a similar skill from one context to another, such as tackling in rugby union after learning to tackle in rugby league, or learning to surf after learning to skateboard. Vertical transfer is the transfer of a skill from a lower order skill to a similar higher order skill, such as shooting in basketball to doing a lay up, or learning to throw before learning to shoot in netball. If the prior experience was positive and had successful performances, then the new skill will be acquired more easily.
Brad Thorn is a great example of prior experience, particularly lateral transfer, aiding performance. Brad Thorn played Rugby League for Brisbane Broncos, won NRL premierships, State of Origin and World Cups representing Australia. He then transferred over to Rugby Union where he played for the Crusaders and won the Super 14s, and represented New Zealand, playing for the All Blacks from 2003-2011 and helping them in their first world cup win in 2011. Brad Thorn is possibly the greatest front rower to ever play in either code.