5 key things you need to think about if you want to be effective at talent identification in sport
For each of your athletes ask yourself:
What have they done to get this far? Current performance is not good at predicting future success and should NOT be used as the main selection criteria. Don’t ignore current performance as it does give you some useful information but it can’t predict the future. Find out more about what each athlete’s current performance is based on. For example, how much have they done previously and are they getting any advantage from early maturity.
Do they know where to focus their effort? Lots of people work hard but to be successful you need to work hard in the right areas. Understanding what will be important and having some idea about how to develop key skills helps build motivation and is crucial to success. Find out how much your athletes know and how they will tackle the challenge of improving.
How well do they know themselves? Everyone has a unique set of characteristics which include things like, strength, size and personality. Some of these characteristics are helpful for certain tasks, some less helpful, but they can all be developed. Find out how well an athlete knows their strengths and weakness by using athlete driven profiling in areas that will be crucial to success in future. Profiling is relevant for athletes of any age but start very simply and add more layers of detail as they progress.
Do they believe they can? The process of building self-belief is vital. The best way to establish how much athletes believe in their ability is to observe the behaviours you see when they train and compete. Research tells us that successful athletes embrace challenges, are good at overcoming setbacks, listen and learn from feedback and take ownership of their own development. Look for athletes who consistently display these behaviours (and make sure you develop them!).
Can they do the time on task? You need to put the hours in to reach the top and understanding an athlete’s capacity to do what needs to be done is crucial. For each athlete, think about what they can do on their own and their ability to be self-motivated and the skills where quality practice is dependent on others. Do they have the capacity to do what’s required in the right environments?