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Talent Identification and Development


Talent Identification and Development

Scotland’s central sports organisation – sportscotland – commissioned the University of Edinburgh to review current practises, academia and international thinking in talent identification and development. Their report, published in 2002, highlighted the following points:

Sporting talent is dependent on genetics, the environment, encouragement – and the effect of these on a person’s physical and psychological traits.

The family is essential to the successful development of the athlete.

Most western countries currently focus talent identification programs on performance rather than potential. More work should be done in talent detection and developing potential, instead of selection and elimination.

Much talent identification focuses on individuals already involved in a particular sport.

Talent identification using only anthropometrical and physiological measures will identify adolescents who dominate at the time of testing as opposed to those who have the potential to excel.

Talent identification schemes that rely on physical attributes and test results favour early maturers and may therefore be prematurely eliminating many athletes who have potential.

Early maturers who have talent may also be disadvantaged by not being pressed to develop appropriate technical skills until it is too late.

Talent cannot be accurately identified by physical measures before the adolescent growth period.

Physique appears to be more influential in closed sports (those with a stable environment, e.g. athletics). Sports that require more decision-making may decrease the significance of physique (e.g. team sports, yachting.)

The earlier talent identification schemes are used, the more potentially talented individuals will be eliminated.

Current talent identification puts minimal emphasis on psychological factors but research consistently shows these are important in whether potential can be translated into performance.

A person’s psyche may be the key to whether they can stay committed to train, develop and perform.

Psychological factors appear to be central to a person’s ability to perform consistently at world-class level.

Fundamental motor abilities should be developed prior to any sport specialisation so that individuals can transfer confidently among sports.

Children who specialise early may never find the sport for which they have the most potential.

Young people should be encouraged to develop motor skills early. This should be followed by the development of a psychological excellence profile to help to equip them for challenges in whatever arena they enter.

Equipping all young people with a range of motor skills will also help the general population lead more active lives.

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