Talent Identification and Development in Sport
Abbott, Angela Julia
The early identification of talented individuals is considered increasingly important across many performance domains. Traditional concepts of talent have primarily emphasized genetically driven variables, proclaiming that exceptional abilities are the result of favourable genes matched to the required performance domain. Consequently, an oversimplified concept of sporting talent exists where the focus has typically been on discrete, one-dimensional measures at unstable periods in the athlete’s development. Talent identification processes adopted by several countries around the world have evolved from this oversimplified concept of talent and are unlikely to reflect adequately how talent emerges in sport. In fact, retrospective interviews with successful athletes emphasized that a range of factors impact success within sport and these are not solely governed by genetic determinants of performance. In particular, athletes highlighted the crucial role that psychology can have on the ability of an individual to translate potential to performance. It is concluded that TI models need to place a greater emphasis on the development of potentially talented performers rather than early identification. In this thesis, the concept of talent is revised as a complex, dynamical system in which future behaviours emerge from an interaction of key determinants such as psychobehavioural characteristics, motor abilities, and physical characteristics. A generic model of talent identification and development (TID) that addresses these issues, and resources that enable its practical application, is proposed. Initial findings from this pilot study are discussed and implications for further work are provided.