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Áine MacNamara and Dave Collins

The importance of psychological characteristics as positive precursors of talent development is acknowledged in literature. Unfortunately, there has been little consideration of the “darker” side of the human psyche. It may be that an inappropriate emphasis on positive characteristics may limit progress. Negative characteristics may also imply derailment or the potential for problems. A comprehensive evaluation of developing performers should cater for positive dual effect and negative characteristics so that these may be exploited and moderated appropriately. An integrated and dynamic system, with a holistic integration of clinical and sport psychology, is offered as an essential element of development systems.

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Wesley Meeter and Kristen Dieffenbach

Stone, Stone and Sands (2005) noted the critical lack of sport science and research based coaching practices in the United States. They noted that current practices are commonly not based on a systematic approach to coaching that allows for both intentionally applied evidence based scientific principles and valid and reliable evaluation methods. Coaching is a profession that requires strong decision making skills, constant assessment, and consistent integration of new information for successful talent development and performance management. Like athletic talent development, the development of these professional skills and the overall development of coaching expertise takes time and deliberate effort (Schempp, 2006). Unfortunately, while formal coaching education program and sport science studies emphasize the physiological, technical and tactical sides of preparing athletes, less attention is paid to the formal development of critical thinking and self-assessment necessary for professional growth and development as a coach. Further, the prevalent grass roots ‘athlete to coach’ and ‘assistant to head’ mentorship models of coach development provide even fewer opportunities for the systematic and deliberate development of these crucial skills.

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Nicholas L. Holt and David Morley

The purposes of this study were to (a) identify psychosocial factors associated with athletic success by talented English school children and (b) examine potential gender differences in their perceptions of athletic success. Thirty-nine athletically talented English children (20 females, 19 males, M age = 13 years, SD = 1.4 years) participated in structured interviews, which were transcribed verbatim and subjected to an inductive-deductive analysis procedure. Results revealed nine categories (comprising 28 themes) of psychosocial factors associated with athletic success during childhood: Ambitions, Choice of Sport, Motives, Success Attributions, Sacrifices, Obstacles, Emotional Support, Informational Support, and Tangible Support. Gender differences are considered and findings are compared to previous talent development and youth sport research.

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Áine MacNamara, Angela Button and Dave Collins

Given the complexity of the talent development process, it seems likely that a range of psychological factors underpin an athlete’s ability to translate potential into top-class performance. Therefore, the purpose of part one of this two-part investigation was to explore the attributes that facilitate the successful development of athletes from initial involvement to achieving and maintaining world-class status. Seven elite athletes and a parent of each of these athletes were interviewed regarding their own (their son’s/daughter’s) development in sport. Data were content analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Although sporting achievement was conceptualized as being multidimensional, psychological factors were highlighted as the key determinants of those who emerged as talented and maintained excellence. Accordingly, we suggest that talent identification and development programs should place greater emphasis on the advancement and application of psychological behaviors at an early stage to optimize both the development and performance of athletes.

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Sigal Ben-Zaken, Yoav Meckel, Ronnie Lidor, Dan Nemet and Alon Eliakim

The aim of the study was to assess whether an aerobic-favoring genetic profile can predict the success of a shift from middle- to long-distance running. Thirteen elite middle-distance runners were divided into successful and nonsuccessful groups in their shift toward long-distance runs. All the runners began their training program at the age of 14–15, and after 6–7 years, changed focus and adjusted their training program to fit longer running distances. The participants’ personal records in the longer events were set at the age of 25–27, about 3–5 years after the training readjustment took place. The endurance genetic score based on 9 polymorphisms was computed as the endurance genetic distance score (EGDS9). The power genetic distance score (PGDS5) was computed based on 5 power-related genetic polymorphisms. The mean EGDS9 was significantly higher among the successful group than the nonsuccessful group (37.1 and 23.3, respectively, p < .005, effect size 0.75), while the mean PGDS5 was not statistically different between the 2 groups (p = .13). Our findings suggest the possible use of genetic profiles as an added tool for determining appropriate competitive transition and specialization in young athletes involved in early phases of talent development.

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Craig A. Williams

In 2017, considerable attention has been paid by researchers on early sports specialization for youth athletes. Issues related to injury, burnout, and talent development to name a few have been debated, particularly when contrasted against other opposing youth development approaches, such as a multisport approach. The increasing professionalization of young athletes, a particular concern of this author, is coupled with the ensuing physical and mental pressures on these youngsters, as highlighted by the 2 highlighted publications in this commentary. Moreover, the financial costs to parents to support talented youngsters lead me to conclude that we must not treat them as “mini-adult athletes.” Trying to predict too far into the sporting future of a 9- or 10-year athlete can lead us to forgetting that they are just a 9 year, who typically wants to play, have fun, and be with their friends. Embarking on concentrated training programs, endless travel for tournaments, and an overemphasis on winning can be detrimental to participation rates as shown by recent data in the United States. Therefore, the challenge for researchers in elite youth sports is to ensure that practices we pursue with our young charges promote their health and well-being and that sports is for the benefit of the athlete and not the other way around.

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Cesar Marius Meylan, John Cronin, Will G. Hopkins and Jonathan Oliver

Adjustment for body mass and maturation of strength, power, and velocity measures of young athletes is important for talent development. Seventy-four youth male athletes performed a ballistic leg press test at five loads relative to body mass. The data were analyzed in maturity groups based on years from peak height velocity: −2.5 to −0.9 y (n = 29); −1.0 to 0.4 y (n = 28); and 0.5 to 2.0 y (n = 16). Allometric scaling factors representing percent difference in performance per percent difference in body mass were derived by linear regression of log-transformed variables, which also permitted adjustment of performance for body mass. Standardized differences between groups were assessed via magnitude-based inference. Strength and power measures showed a greater dependency on body mass than velocity-related variables (scaling factors of 0.56–0.85 vs. 0.42–0.14%/%), but even after adjustment for body mass most differences in strength and power were substantial (7–44%). In conclusion, increases in strength and power with maturation are due only partly to increases in body mass. Such increases, along with appropriate adjustment for body mass, need to be taken into account when comparing performance of maturing athletes.

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Tamara Kramer, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Chris Visscher

Purpose:

To analyze how physical fitness (PF) improves in elite junior tennis players related to age, maturity, and performance level.

Methods:

Elite junior tennis players (n = 113 boys, n = 83 girls) divided by performance level were monitored longitudinally from U14 to U16. Maturity, upper and lower-body power, speed, and agility were measured during subsequent competitive seasons. Improvement was analyzed per sex using multilevel analysis.

Results:

PF components for boys and girls improved over age (U14-U16) (ES .53–.97). In boys, the more mature boys outscored the less mature boys in upper and lower-body power from U14-U16. In girls, high-ranked girls outscored lower-ranked girls on lower-body power, speed, and agility (U14-U16) (p < .05).

Conclusion:

Boys and girls improved on all PF components during U14-U16. In boys, power was related to maturity. In girls, lower-body power, speed, and agility were related to tennis performance. This has important implications for talent development.

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Florentina J. Hettinga

domain, not many studies have focused on how pacing skills develop from childhood throughout adolescence. In our recent invited commentary, 8 we brought together literature on pacing, talent development, and self-regulation of learning. Not only is self-regulation essential throughout the process of

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Martyn Rothwell, Joseph Stone and Keith Davids

) exposes how the interacting network of subsystems is open to continuous dynamical interactions during athlete development ( Hristovski, Balague Serre, & Schöllhorn, 2014 ). In this model of skill acquisition and talent development, influential constraints at all levels interact to shape the emergence of