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Jamie Taylor and Dave Collins

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.

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Jamie Taylor and Dave Collins

Given the nonlinear nature of talent development, there is a lack of research investigating those who do not “make it.” Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to explore the reasons that performers of high potential did not meet their expected performance level. Participants, who were experienced talent developers in high-level academies from football and rugby, identified 5 broad reasons for these failures: lack of mental skills, serendipity, pathway-based failures, maladaptive family input, and lack of physical skills. Using a 3-part focus derived from the data, the authors suggest ways that talent pathways can optimize their output and prevent these failures.

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Jamie Taylor, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank

Feedback from coaches and other stakeholders is well established as having a significant impact on the development of performance. This study investigated perceptions of the feedback process and the sense-making of athletes transitioning to elite sport. Specifically, the aims were to (a) investigate the number of feedback providers young players reported through their talent development journey, (b) understand the degree of coherence that players perceived from this feedback, and (c) explore the sense-making process of individual players by understanding their decision criteria. The findings suggest that pathway athletes were offered an excess of feedback from multiple sources, often incoherently. Yet, players lacked an appropriate sense-making process to appreciate, critically reflect on, and apply feedback. Given the implications for talent development, we offer suggestions for the coach and system to optimize feedback processes and develop gourmet consumers.