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Simon A. Worsnop

The purpose of this article is to examine the application of talent development principles to the coaching of rugby. It will consider the generic and sport specific problems of talent identification and selection, particularly the danger of early selection that poses the dual problems of early disengagement on the one hand and over specialization on the other. The paper will touch upon the various proposed models of athlete development and discuss the ways in which a national governing body of sport can influence player development along the age continuum. The role of the individual coach in developing young players and the importance of coach development and education will also be considered. Understanding the needs of players at different times in their development, and having a clear knowledge of how to improve performance in an efficient, time restrained but also enjoyable manner is a key skill for any coach. However, this skill requires time to grow and many coach education systems do not provide the ongoing support mechanisms that will enable a coach to grow and flourish, resulting in a less than optimal coaching environment.

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Ole Winthereik Mathorne, Kristoffer Henriksen and Natalia Stambulova

In Denmark, sport management and talent development rely on the collaboration between talent-development stakeholders and organizations in an athletic-talent-development environment. Guided by the holistic ecological approach (HEA) in talent development ( Henriksen & Stambulova, 2017 ; Henriksen

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Stephen Macdonald and Justine Allen

& Fonseca, 2016 ; Mills, Butt, Maynard, & Harwood, 2012 ), however, the importance of the talent development environment (TDE) and the coach’s central influence within it, have been consistently documented (e.g.,  Henriksen, Stambulova, & Roessler, 2011 ; International Council for Coaching Excellence

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Andrew J.A. Hall, Leigh Jones and Russell J.J. Martindale

environmental level, innate talent will never be enough ( Abbott & Collins, 2004 ; Gagné, 2004 ; Martindale, Collins, & Abraham, 2007 ; Mills, Butt, & Maynard, 2014 ). The shift in emphasis away from the identification of talent towards understanding the talent development process is becoming more evident in

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Darren J. Burgess and Geraldine A. Naughton

Traditional talent development pathways for adolescents in team sports follow talent identification procedures based on subjective games ratings and isolated athletic assessment. Most talent development models are exclusive rather than inclusive in nature. Subsequently, talent identification may result in discontentment, premature stratification, or dropout from team sports. Understanding the multidimensional differences among the requirements of adolescent and elite adult athletes could provide more realistic goals for potential talented players. Coach education should include adolescent development, and rewards for team success at the adolescent level should reflect the needs of long-term player development. Effective talent development needs to incorporate physical and psychological maturity, the relative age effect, objective measures of game sense, and athletic prowess. The influences of media and culture on the individual, and the competing time demands between various competitions for player training time should be monitored and mediated where appropriate. Despite the complexity, talent development is a worthy investment in professional team sport.

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Richard Bailey and David Collins

Despite evident differences between approaches to talent development, many share a set of common characteristics and presumptions. We call this the Standard Model of Talent Development (SMTD). This model is articulated and the relevant literature drawn out to highlight the model's strengths and weaknesses. The SMTD has been enormously influential, in terms of both policy documentation and practice, and it retains an obvious common sense appeal. However, we will argue that not only is its attractiveness illusionary and inconsistent to the emerging evidence base from research, but it is also undesirable from a variety of perspectives and desired outcomes. In short, we suggest that the most common system for identifying talent is unsubstantiated from both a process and an outcome perspective.

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Kristoffer Henriksen, Natalia Stambulova and Kirsten Kaya Roessler

The holistic ecological approach to talent development in sport highlights the central role of the overall environment as it affects a prospective elite athlete. This paper examines a flat-water kayak environment in Norway with a history of successfully producing top-level senior athletes from among its juniors. Principal methods of data collection include interviews, participant observations of daily life in the environment and analysis of documents. The environment was centered around the relationship between prospects and a community of elite athletes, officially organized as a school team but helping the athletes to focus on their sport goals, teaching the athletes to be autonomous and responsible for their own training, and perceived as very integrated due to a strong and cohesive organizational culture. We argue that the holistic ecological approach opens new venues in talent development research and holds the potential to change how sport psychology practitioners work with prospective elite athletes.

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Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Florentina J. Hettinga

Pacing has been characterized as a multifaceted goal-directed process of decision making in which athletes need to decide how and when to invest their energy during the race, a process essential for optimal performance. Both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with adequate pacing and performance are known to develop with age. Consequently, the multifaceted skill of pacing might be under construction throughout adolescence, as well. Therefore, the authors propose that the complex skill of pacing is a potential important performance characteristic for talented youth athletes that needs to be developed throughout adolescence. To explore whether pacing is a marker for talent and how talented athletes develop this skill in middle-distance and endurance sports, they aim to bring together literature on pacing and literature on talent development and self-regulation of learning. Subsequently, by applying the cyclical process of self-regulation to pacing, they propose a practical model for the development of performance in endurance sports in youth athletes. Not only is self-regulation essential throughout the process of reaching the long-term goal of athletic excellence, but it also seems crucial for the development of pacing skills within a race and the development of a refined performance template based on previous experiences. Coaches and trainers are advised to incorporate pacing as a performance characteristic in their talent-development programs by stimulating their athletes to reflect, plan, monitor, and evaluate their races on a regular basis to build performance templates and, as such, improve their performance.

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Andy Hill, Áine MacNamara and Dave Collins

Talent development (TD) is widely recognized as a nonlinear and dynamic process, with psychology a key determinant of long-term success in sport. However, given the role that positive characteristics play in the TD process, there is a relative dearth of research examining the psychological characteristics that may derail development. A retrospective qualitative investigation was conducted with academy coaches and directors within rugby union (n = 15), representing nine different elite English rugby union academies, to identify both positive and negative issues that influenced TD. Comprehensive support was found for existing positive constructs as facilitators of effective development. A range of inappropriately applied ‘positive’ characteristics were identified as having a negative impact on development. Potential clinical issues were also recognized by coaches as talent derailers. It is proposed that by incorporating these potentially negative factors into existing formative assessment tools, a more effective development process can be achieved.

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Taryn K. Morgan and Peter R. Giacobbi Jr.

The purpose of this study was to utilize multiple perspectives to describe the major influences and experiences during the development of highly talented collegiate athletes. Eight NCAA Division I collegiate athletes, 12 parents, and 6 coaches participated in this study. In-depth semi-structured interviews analyzed through grounded theory analytic procedures (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) were used. Overall, it was ascertained that a favorable interaction between perceived genetic dispositions, practice, situational factors, and mental characteristics facilitated and nurtured the participants’ talent development. The importance of social support for overcoming adversity was a salient theme and should be addressed by sport psychology consultants and coaches.