Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Searching for sporting excellence: talent identification and development
  1. Carlton Cooke,
  2. Steve Cobley,
  3. Kevin Till,
  4. Nicholas Wattie
  1. Leeds Metropolitan University Leeds, UK


The systems, models and programmes designed to identify and provide for the development of talented young people in sport continue to evolve in their complexity and comprehensiveness, often driven by national interests of doing well in sport. The influences of the approach developed in the German Democratic Republic still remain, with a continued focus on the physical determinants of performance in sport. However, such influences are now complemented by due consideration for the holistic development of young people who happen to be talented in sport. As a field of enquiry talent identification and development demands a multidisciplinary approach and those that work directly with young people require a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the key disciplinary contributions. Selection for performance with a focus on the immediate or short term goals and aspirations of important others are still too often confused with talent identification and development. In contrast, some of the most comprehensive examples of talent identification and development programmes in sport analyse the performer's activity from end to start (ie, they start from an accessible result and work backwards in terms of understanding the processes of preparation and development that are the required building blocks in order to get an individual young performer to their accessible endpoint). This presentation will draw on a range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, as well as providing some examples from sport, to identify the contemporary issues in talent identification and development of concern to those who plan and practice it, but mostly importantly for those young people that experience it.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.