By Josephine Joy B. Reyes, MPE
There is no one correct model for talent identification and selection. It is dependent on the complexity of the sport (from a predictive perspective) and the infrastructure of the sport at a local, regional, and national level.
– Debbie Hoare, 2001
Our country has a large pool of sporting talent. This includes athletes already participating in sports along with undiscovered talent. However, there is a need for these talented athletes to be identified and selected more effectively and scientifically to assist National Sports Associations in their development projects. With careful planning and optimal utilization of limited resources, a program can be set in place that will accommodate the varying needs of sports at the present time. If programs already exist, perhaps, these programs should be refined, improved and openly accepted to readily adapt to our stakeholders.
Talent Identification is meaningless without a good and operative system, wherein the major determinants of talent identification outcomes fundamentally rely on the structure and process.
The 3 basic qualities that are essentially measured and considered in a particular sport:
- Anthropometry (this includes the height, weight, wing span, sitting height and leg length of an individual). This is significant because over the years, the size and shape of the athlete’s body have evolved towards a form that is optimal for performance in sports.
For example, large body mass is an advantage in many sports; long levers are important in “speed” sports while short levers in “strength” sports; and proportionality is an advantage in certain sports. These attributes indicate that there are distinct profiles for individuals in different sports.
- Physical innate abilities of an individual. Talent Identification (TID), in the purest sense, assumes that there is a genetic basis underlying performance. That is, some individuals are born with innately better or higher capacities and/or trainability of these. These can be optimally and objectively measured through a series of standard tests that quantify the physical and physiological attributes of an individual. This approach ultimately directs the athlete to a better suited sport or to play in a more appropriate position or compete in a more appropriate event in their chosen sport.
- Age and maturity of an individual. It is imperative to note that the dynamic of performance factors changes over the maturational cycle. That is, predictors of success at a junior level are not always the same as those at the senior level. Monitoring of athletes’ physiological dimensions is vital in understanding the changes better.
In addition to the physical and physiological attributes, which usually make up a talent identification process, other factors such as motivation, determination, resilience, positive attitude, resistance to injury, ability to learn and perform skills can all be important.
Talent identification, talent selection, talent confirmation, talent development and talent blending are currently being used throughout all levels of the performance pathway and have been used interchangeably to describe the recruitment of gifted individuals into sport, as well as the identification of gifted and talented individuals already within a sport. (Figure 1 illustrates a sample framework.)
Consequently, TID is meaningless without a good and operative system, wherein the major determinants of TID outcomes fundamentally rely on the structure and process (Rütten & Ziemainz). In other words, a suitable talent development system offers a good opportunity to evaluate initial TID, which principally recognizes the current participants with the potential to excel in a particular sport and provides an appropriate learning environment (also known as talent development or TDE) in order to realize this potential, which in turn play a crucial role in the pursuit of excellence (Vaeyens, et al 2008). Therefore, the success of a TID program trusts on getting the athlete into the best training program, support system, and onto a sport career pathway to the elite level.
The next article will focus on how to go about Sports Talent Identification Program with emphasis on Talent Selection and Development.
Vaeyens et al. Talent Identification and Development Programmes in Sport
Current Models and Future Directions, Sports Med 2008; 38 (9): 703-714
Alfred Rütten & Heiko Ziemainz. Looking to the future: Analysis of Talent Identification and Development Systems in Different Countries Institute of Sport Science and Sport University Erlangen – Nuremberg (http://sportperformancecentres.org/sites/default/files/11a_Looking_to_the_Future_Heiko_Ziemaiz-Alfred_Rutten.pdf )
Talent Identification and Development Programme talentidentificationanddevelop_summary.doc Ronnie Macquaker21/09/2004 15:21 (http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/)
Australian Institute of Sports – National talent search program. (http://www.ais.org.au/talent/index.asp)
Hoare DG. Predecting Success in junior elite basketball players – – the contribution of anthropometric and physiological attributes. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in Sports. [J Sci Med Sport. ]2000Dec; 3 (4): pp 391-405
JOSEPHINE JOY B. REYES is presently a faculty of the Sports Science Department of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Santo Tomas. Concurrently, she holds a consultancy position as Head of the Sports Physiology Unit of the Sports Science Center of the Philippine Sports Commission.