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There appears to be general agreement that interaction with significant challenge should be a central feature of the development pathways for future high performers. There is, however, far less clarity about how such programs should be designed and delivered against core psychological principles. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to offer guidelines for talent development practitioners seeking to offer athletes the opportunity to maximize their growth and development. The authors propose that genuinely developmental experiences will likely offer a level of emotional disturbance and, as a result, more fully engage performers, prompting self and other facilitated reflection, and motivate future action. Furthermore, there is a necessity for these experiences and their follow-up, to be managed in a coherent manner and integrated with existing skills, experience, and future performance aims. In highlighting these issues, the authors offer recommendations for talent development coaches, managers, psychologists, and parents of athletes.
The authors are with the Moray House School of Education and Sport, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; and Grey Matters Performance Limited, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, United Kingdom.