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Talent Identification and Development

Talent Identification and Development

This is the ability to recognize talent from the beginning in an individual. This mostly happens in the sports fraternity. Scout and coaches are the ones who go around, attending matches and trying to single out a future star.

They try to discover a hidden gem hidden in their respective sport, for example football or soccer within a group of young kids. The kids may be as young as 6-7 years old.

Parents, guardians or siblings may also discover this talent because they are around the child and can identify what they are good at.

The scout or coach doing the discovery will be looking for something specific like their skills on the field and their confidence. They can then be nurtured to be the best players for their respective sports and play professionally.

“Talent identification is a key area within sports development. The identification of sports talent aims to detect, capture, select and promote the athlete who has the skills and competencies and thus the potential to ensure, as far as possible, the achievement of competitive success.” (Pruna, Tribaldos and Bahdur, 2018).

Talent identification and development in sports is developed in five steps: “(1) Talent Detection, the discovery of potential performers who are not currently involved in the sport in question; (2) Talent Identification, recognizing participants with the potential at an earlier age to become elite performers in the future; (3) Talent Development, providing athletes with a suitable learning environment to accelerate or realize their potential; (4) Talent Selection, the ongoing process of identifying individuals at various stages of development who demonstrate prerequisite levels of performance. The final step – Talent Transfer, focuses on transfer from one sport to another sport where there are greater opportunities to succeed” (Till and Baker, 2020).

Impact of talent identification on successful athletes

It ensures identification of talent in remote areas of the world.

Talent scouts travel in different places of the world so as to discover new talent. For example, in a sport such as soccer.

Professional soccer teams are made of different successful talents scouted from different parts of the world. The players may come from as far as from the continent of Africa, to South America.

It promotes specializations among the athletes.

Athletes are able to specialize is a specific sport and become the best at it.

For example, The Williams sisters, who are the one of the best in women’s tennis sports. Their parents coached them early as they developed this talent from an early age.

Ensures the continued success of the sports industry.

The professional sports industry is multi-billion- dollar industry. People love sports, the competitiveness of their teams, the entertainment, they are willing to spend money in this industry.

The professional teams therefore spend resources both financial and non- financial to find talent and to develop great teams that people are happy to pay to watch them play.

Identification of young athletes who have the potential to be successful adults.

The parents, guardians, scouts or coaches are able to identify a hidden talent in a specific sport.

Through tests and training these children can actually end up becoming successful athletes in their respective sports.

The innate desire to discover the next prodigy.

What does Tiger woods, Magic Johnson, Tara Lipinski all have in common?

Well, these athletes are known for their best sport performances in their young ages between 15-21.

Talent Identification and development helps the parents; coaches discover the next best thing in the sports world. It may make them proud to be part of that process.

Economic Impact on the athlete

Some of these talented athletes, for example, Pele, Mike Tyson, Ronaldo. These are athletes from a poor background who are able to become successful as they are the best in their individual sports.

Talent identification and development also offers financial independence for the young talented adults who cannot afford to play fulltime and develop their skills fully.

It also offers financial independence for their families.

Critical discussion how the Family Influences change during the talent development.

Families especially the parents or the guardians of the young talent are the first to recognize this talent.

The parents or guardian provides guidance to the young talent. They make sure that the young talent works hard to be their best.

They also show special interest in the young talent. They take steps to ensure that the young talent does not waste time and improves daily in their practice.

These families also take keen interest in sport activities after school. They encourage their young children to do some after school sport activities. This is the initial development of their children’s talent.

The parents or siblings do not leave the talent development to the coach. They realize the importance of helping the young talent to practice harder and become better. They encourage the importance of hard work to their young talent.

“In summary, opportunities to become familiar with the talent area were available to most of the individuals in our sample from an early age. These opportunities occurred through: (a) watching parents, older siblings, or family friends participate in and enjoy talent-related activities; (b) access to resources and materials, which were available because of the parents’ activities or were provided by the parents specifically for the children’s use; and (c) listening to the parents discuss the positive benefits of such activities, either with the children or with friends or relatives.” (Sloane, n.d.)


Appropriate theories and models and critically review of the literature.

There are two methods of talent Identification and development.

  1. Natural selection (Talent)

This is when the child or young talented adult is identified while already participating/playing the sport. Most young footballers are discovered this way by football scouts.

The good thing with this method is that the individual is already talented in their particular specific sport, it just needs to be developed.

The negative part with this kind of selection is that the person who discovers this young talent then has to be really good and an expert in pointing out the hidden gem in a pool of other kids who are playing the same sport.

There have findings that suggest that there are successes for the talented athlete in the junior level, which is expected as they are still young, but these successes are not carried over to the senior level. Elaine states that, “Whilst both the football association and lawn tennis association schools of sport have reported a high level of success at the junior level, limited success has resulted at the senior level.” (Wolstencroft, 2002).

  1. Scientific selection(Skill)

This is identifying the talented child or young adult based on the test results. The good thing about this method is that the resources are donated towards the individual who has the highest potential to be a successful athlete.

This method encourages competitiveness within the athletes as they strive to become the best in their fields.

Scientific selection also save time for the coach or the institutions involved, meaning they only take time training the best of the best of the athletes in their respective fields.

The athletes are able to reach higher performance within a shorter time because they are essentially training the best.

The negative thing is that the athletes as they grow older they also need to develop other skills like commitment towards their sport.

In recent times there has been an argument in the sport world between talent and practice/performance. This is like the argument between nurture vs nature, it always depends on how you look at the situation.

Talented individuals not only rely on their talent but are also motivated enough to practice more and more in order to be the best in their fields. One cannot rely on talent only as practice gives them the competitive edge.

“Indeed, children born with natural athletic ability may be more apt to practice, because practicing may provide a greater internal reinforcement than it does for those children who are less talented” (Gray and Plucker, 2010).


There also seems to be some success for talent identification and development in communist countries. China and Russia seem to be exceling in the gymnastic world especially during Olympics. However, since these are communist countries, even if reporting that they practice natural selection as they pick “future” gymnasts, swimming as young as 4 years old, there is not enough literature supporting this.

“Communist nations have experienced considerable success in sport on the international arena. Unfortunately, a thorough analysis of the talent detection and identification procedures is hindered due both to limited information available on the specific criterion, and some ‘strong conjecture’ as to the ethics of the procedures employed” (Abbot, 2006).

The methods used in talent identification and development have both positive and negative sides to them. There really is no sure way to ensure the process is smooth and may give correct findings.

While there are great athletes who were discovered in their early ages there are also athletes who were discovered late. “Many current methods of focusing on early indicators of talent are very static and linear approaches. They ignore the fact that development is individual and that differences in performance can be explained by differences in maturation.” (O’Sullivan, n.d.)

In conclusion talent identification and development has the indicated five steps that the scout and the parent undertake.

The family especially the parents or siblings are heavily involved in the early stages of the talent identification. The reason is because they are the ones who are able to recognize this hidden talent and whether they choose to grow this talent.

Talent identification and development is done in two methods which are natural and scientific. These methods are what the coaches or scouts use to identify a young talented individual.

Talent identification and development in sports is done by the professional sports industry. This ensures that the industry is successful, besides sports is what brings people together all over the world.

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