Talent Identification in Youth Ice Hockey: Exploring “Intangible” Player Characteristics

in The Sport Psychologist
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The purpose of this study was to examine “intangible” characteristics that scouts consider when evaluating draft-eligible prospects for the Western Hockey League. Sixteen scouts participated in semistructured interviews that were subjected to an inductive thematic analysis and then organized around predetermined categories of why intangibles were important, what intangibles were valued, and how scouts evaluated these intangibles. Intangibles helped scouts establish players’ fit with the organizational culture of teams and influenced scouts’ draft-list ranking of players. The key intangibles scouts sought were labeled compete, passion, character, and leadership/team player. Scouts noted red flags (i.e., selfish on-ice behaviors, bad body language, and poor parental behavior) that led them to question players’ suitability for their respective organizations. Finally, scouts used an investigative process to identify and evaluate these intangibles through direct observation; interviews with players, coaches, and trainers; and assessments of players’ social media activities. Implications for sport psychology consultants are discussed.

The authors are with the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, & Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Dunn (john.dunn@ualberta.ca) is corresponding author.
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