Talent identification for coaches is generating a pool of athletes who may have the genetic make up (physical, mental, tactical, technical and lifestyle) that you are looking for. Selection is choosing from this pool. Another definition of Talent identification is “that process by which children are encouraged to participate in the sports at which they are most likely to succeed, based on results of testing selected parameters. These parameters are designed to predict performance capacity, taking into account the child’s current level of fitness and maturity” (Peltola, 1992).
Phase 1: Identification of talent
Stage 1: Talent assessment event (fitness, speed, endurance, strength, endurance, stature)
Talent assessment is the integral part of determining the parameters of your selection. In order to get an accurate selection framework, a coach/trainer has to understand the training principles of that sport and adapt a similar type of qualifying test. For example, in swimming, for a qualifying physical anthropometry test is consequential to determine the arm span of the swimmer to streamline individuals into the 4 different swim strokes.
Stage 2: Results are correlated against a national database
Many developed nations have established a national body with a list of national athletes. However, not all of them have a national database in place to make a correlation. It is never too late, the Global Talent Track – Talent Transfer is a unique product on its own as it captures existing data and plots it internally into the national database to give correlations of the top 3 sports that the athlete had scored highest in (determined by a psychometric, physical, physiological test)
Stage 3: Significant changes
Test should be conducted sequentially to track progress. This is also a good check back for coaches/ trainers and sporting programs to identify if a training plan has its full effect on the increased in performance of the individual. For kids, this also helps them to perform the skill with more confidence as it will be a similar test to analyze performance.
Phase 2: Testing Stage & Selection Stage
1) The testing or screening process continues in this phase, but becomes more sport specific
Sports specificity – specificity is a principle in sport training that states that training a certain body part or component of fitness yields benefits that are specific and related to it. It implies that one needs to incorporate a certain exercise or skill into a training program if one hopes to become better at it. For example, someone who wishes to become a better marathon runner should focus on running certain mileages per day/per week.
2) The testing protocol serves to hone the results in phase one
Using the evidence based testing protocol, it can be broken down into 4 areas.
Emotional – regulation coping, psychological / Physical – physiological, repetition / Cognitive – tactical, strategic, perceptual, decision making / Technical – precise movement, highly repeatable
3) If increased potential for a specific sport is indicated, they will then be assessed to develop in one or more of the targeted sports by judging the ability to learn new skills relevant to the sport
However, maturity of individuals will also affect the developmental patterns of the child. Some early bloomers will master the skill and progress quickly showing great improvements, but that is not a determinant to whether this same child will make it to be the next world champion.
Phase 3: Development Stage
1) Talent confirmation training programme for 3-6 months
-looks at the athletes commitment to their development and their ability to develop as an elite athlete
How many kids these days would be enthusiastic to say they want to be an Olympic champion versus that of imagine an e-sports champion in League of Legends, Dota2, Counter Strike, FIFA etc. E-sports gaming is taking the world by storm, any kid these days with the support of plug and play solutions from the comfort of home will enable to kid to have full access to becoming the next champion. In sports, the same was given decades ago where getting out of the house to play was the thrill and excitement. The virtual realm of entertainment is influencing digital citizens as we speak, how then can we still inculcate the values outdoors? We have to implement bringing technology out into the open.
2) People who show exceptional talent at the end of the programme invited to an Olympic Development programme.
Wait, how many % of the talent pool population do actually make it to such a program? We must understand the disparity in standards around the world in the sports available out there. Many sports need a ranking table which is determined by the level of competition, number of wins, number of appearance before one makes it into a development program. Other sports which are timed based would require the athlete to hit the benchmark timings in a given qualifying window.
Those that do not reach this stage are advised on how they can continue through different clubs and societies or to take it up leisurely. Often times, this will be devastating for a youth athlete as hopes would be crushed and dreams shattered. However, if there is a sustainable plan for these youth athletes to transit into another sport, this will solve the issue of talent transfers.
In conclusion, the breaking down phases of talent identification help practitioners focus on the developmental process rather than the performance outcome alone. That the focus of the initial trial phases is to get the players showing the greatest long-term potential (as opposed to short term ability) into the development programme. That the role of maturation is acknowledged, along with the fact that players that are effective at a young age will not necessarily be the same ones that are effective in future years, thus there are so many considerations to make after you have selected your pool of athletes.
All the best in the search for the next sporting superstar!