“I Can’t Teach You to Be Taller”: How Canadian, Collegiate-Level Coaches Construct Talent in Sport

in Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 York University
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Talent identification and development are two of the most critical, yet underexplored, areas in sport sciences. Despite its importance to a host of sport stakeholders, there is a void in our understanding of how coaches construct talent. In an effort to learn more, semistructured interviews were conducted with nine (one female and eight male) collegiate-level coaches from a single Canadian institution. Social constructionism was utilized as the theoretical framework to guide this research. Reflexive thematic analysis generated two main themes: “what talent looks like” and “how talent behaves.” For the former, two subthemes, physical and psychological attributes, were highlighted through the coaches’ experiences as qualities they believe talented athletes may present. The latter reflected opinions that talent may be multidimensional and context-specific in nature. Interestingly, the coaches suggested the context and circumstances of collegiate sport may nudge them to consider other elements (i.e., academic standing, years to degree completion) during talent identification that are unique to this context. Future work in this area could seek to study other populations of coaches to provide a deeper analysis of how talent is situated in relation to different sociocultural worlds.

The authors are with York University, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Jones (justinejones14@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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