Objectives The aim of the study was to examine the impact of the order in which information about a performer is received and the influence of observer experience and mode of responding. Method Male athletes (40 qualified soccer coaches, 40 soccer players and 40 non-soccer players) viewed a video of two soccer players (a control and target player) each performing a passing task eight times. For the control player, all participants saw the same footage in the same order. For the target player, participants viewed the same footage with half viewing a declining (successful to unsuccessful) performance pattern and half viewing an ascending pattern. Participants then rated the players on a range of descriptors. Results Multivariate analyses of variance indicated no differences in the ratings of the control player but did show primacy effects in the judgement of the target player's ability, control, attitude, speed of thought and athleticism. Primacy effects were observed regardless of the soccer experience of the participants and the judgement mode (end-of-sequence versus step-by-step). Conclusion The study supports the contention that the order in which performance information is received influences the overall attribution of ability.