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Talent Identification & Development: A Sports Psychology POV

Identifying and developing talents remains a considerable challenge for many sports teams, organisations and academies. It is common that Talent Identification and Development (TID) typically focused on a specific but limited range of factors and considerations. For example, a “one-off” scouting of a player in a football match that performed outstandingly is sufficient in the player being categorised as a talent.

The Importance of Having a Multi-Dimension TID

Fully utilising several components of identifying talents is crucial as many attributes could be missed out or yet to be discovered. Take a 13-year-old basketball player for example. An advantage in height is clearly very beneficial. However, some players might have a later growth spurt and thus missed out in being selected. In addition, without a systematic and longitude approach, the talent might not be considered again, even though he has other factors that contributes to him being a better talent compared to "taller" players. As such, taking into considerations of components and contributing factors becomes key. Commonly, physical components and technical skills are very tangible ways to identify talents. However, a more holistic approach that takes psychological attributes into consideration will provide a even better determinant not only in identifying but also develop these talents.

Scouting for Talent
Is your talent identification only consist of a "one-off" scouting or a continuous, multi-dimensional approach towards TID?

The Role of Psychology in Talent Identification and Development

One of the least popular and quantified element of TID process is the psychological determinants of performances. While first instinct of psychological component in TID will normally lead to the usage of personality characteristics as factors, studies has shown that personality profiles are not the most conclusive way to identify talent. In fact, we know that talents with different personalities can excel at elite levels. Take Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as an example. Both are one of the top seeds yet their personalities are very different.

Nadal vs Djokovic
Nadal and Djokovic are elite tennis players, yet they have different personalities.

So what are the psychological determinants that can help with TID?

Abbot and Collins (2007) has identified that the use of psychological skills, such as goal setting, realistic performance evaluation, imagery and commitment can help with determining talents. Not only it helps with identification, these determinants also helped with further development of the talent. In what is termed as psychobehavioral elements, these are the keys to unlock the talent's ability as well as developing it towards fulfilling one's potential.

Let's consider one of the psychobehavioural elements for the matter. Goal-setting is known to facilitate the ability of the athlete to focus on their goals and working towards the direction set. Not only this helps with their focus, this element also provide assistance in progressing through various stages of his/her development.

To be continued....

Apart from identifying, continuing effort in monitoring and developing all elements makes a huge contribution towards their development. Simply put, its not just the "I" but also the "D" in TID that benefits from identifying these psychobehavioural factors. As it is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort, support from coaches, sports psychologists and other relevant personnel (families, team mates, mentors) can facilitate the talent's progress.

Ultimately, Talent Identification and Development (TID) is a complex process that should not be based solely on limited factors or one-time observations. Adopting a holistic approach, which includes considering athletes' physical, technical, and psychological attributes, is crucial for the effective identification and development of true talent. By adopting these strategies and focusing on the long-term development of athletes, sports teams, organisations, and academies can significantly enhance their chances of identifying and cultivating the next generation of exceptional performers. Does your team, academy or organisation have the tools or system in getting the best of talents available? Check-in with us on how we can help with the TID process!

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