Identifying and developing elite performers: Some key considerations from a coach’s perspective
Coaches working towards the performance end of the participation-performance spectrum are commonly concerned with unearthing potentially gifted athletes and nurturing that latent talent so that potential is fulfilled. Those who have experience of this talent identification and development process will know, often from painful experience as coaches and/or performers, that this is a ‘rocky road’ fraught with value conflicts, ethical dilemmas and difficult decisions commonly based on subjective reasoning and intuition. The decisions on whether to select and retain young athletes on development programmes are often made without any empirical evidence about their physical, technical and psychological potential. Even when this evidence is at our disposal, there are differing viewpoints amongst sports scientists and coaches on which data are significant and how they are to be utilised.