Scientific Aspects of Talent Development

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  See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: Scientific Aspects of Talent Development  Article  · January 2003 CITATIONS 36 READS 214 2 authors:Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Talent Identification in Elementary School   View projectGame analyses   View projectAndreas HohmannUniversity of Bayreuth 54   PUBLICATIONS   224   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE Ilka SeidelLandesSportBund Niedersachsen, Hannover,… 68   PUBLICATIONS   108   CITATIONS   SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Ilka Seidel on 07 September 2015. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.   esearch Articles Scientific Aspects of Talent Development A. Hohmnann I. Seidel (Potsdam, Germany) 1 2 Talent Identification and Talent PromotionInitial Juvenile and Final Performance as Stages of the Talent Development Pro- cess 2.] Talent Detection 2 2 Talent Skills Make-Up) 2 3 Talent Selection 2.3.1 Diagnostic Problems 2.3.2 Diagnostic Criteria 2.4 Talent Training 2.5 Talent Prediction 2.6 Talent Perfection 3 Summary and Conclusions Abstract Talent Development with its various aspects (e.g. educational, psychological, institutional)represents (or should represent) very important and extensive aspects of the work of teachers as well as of coaches in the field of sports. Both groups of professionals are more or less con- sciously involved in the early stages of talent identification and talent promotion. Thereforescientific knowledge about the basic skills and abilities, as to the detection, training, and se- lection procedures of talented children is indispensable. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview on scientific tasks, especially on the prob-lems of talent identification and talent promotion. These two key factors of the talent devel- opment process are very much intertwined, and therefore need to be discussed in close con- text. With this in mind, this paper will pay special attention to the issues in the field of train- ing interventions and performance diagnostic measures, and not so much on institutional or social aspects of talent development.  Talent dentification and Talent Promotion In the 1970's talent research was conceptualised as a domain specific variant of the more gen-eral psychological research on giftedness With this method the talent approach is directed prospectively and aims at the goal to predict future success on the basis of prepubescent and adolescent performance data. In the 1990's an altemate research concept, called the expertise approach was introduced withthe work of Ericsson, Krampe, Tesch-Romer (1993). The most regarded sport specific studies based on this approach are summarized in the book Developing talent in young people by Bloom (1985). With this approach, the research per- spective is reversed, meaning it is retrospective. After asking the question what is special about adult elite athletes, and what these adult elite performers had to say about their training history and athletic career, deliberate practice tumed out to be a crucial factor. Deliberatepractice is done to develop required abilities that are not intrinsically motivating, require ef- fort and attention, and do not lead to immediate social or financial rewards. 9 on purpose intencionado  I i 0 INITIAL JUVENILE FINAL PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE 1 PERFORMANCE Figure : Initial uvenile andfinal athletic performances as segmental stages of talent devel opment All in all, expertise research has led to an enormous amount of knowledge of how to achieve excellence with its occasional ups and downs. Still unanswered, however, are the very im- portant questions concerning talent development, which can only be solved on the basis of the prospective talent research approach: 1 Talent is an important part of the child s overall potential and deserves recognition and encouragement from the beginning. Therefore, early talent identification is a central need for the well being of our young athletes that strive to realise their full potential. 2. Early talent identification reduces the negative consequences of early specialisation, which on the one hand is definitely needed in regard to future success, but on the other hand may be imposed on children, that are not necessarily best suited for that specifickind of sport. Last, but not least, effective early talent identification lowers the cost of the talent promotion programs. 2 Initial, Juvenile, and Final Performance as Stages of the Talent DevelopmentProcess Initial performance means the performance of an individual before he/she gets involved in sport specific training. That kind of performance exhibited by children serves as a starting point of the talent development process (see Fig. l . It is followed by the subsequent juvenile performances of prepubescence and during puberty and adolescence. The last stage of final performance begins when the adult athlete strives for ultimate success. 2.1 Talent Detection The first step in the stream of talent identification procedures (see Fig. 1 is the detection of talented children that are not yet involved in regular training procedures. Even though theearly detection of talented youngsters appears to be advantageous, there are a couple of prob- lems related to the initial screening of (in most cases) prepubescent children that have to be addressed. 10  /  ! pju b # t $  /   /  ! l.t # .m $ t/   /  ! l.t # .m # t/ máximo definitivo (final or highest)  One of these problems is the ethical question, whether society is allowed to impose such a screening procedure on their breed, especially when the motivation is not used to enhance its development (see above), but merely to tum flesh into gold (Lloyd, 1995). Another question is, whether such a screening routine should rely on general or specific test-ing, i.e. general or specific abilities that compose the initial performance of children. Aber- nethy (1991) and also Williams and Burwitz (1993) showed strong evidence that the perform-ance in sports games (the same may be true in contact sports) is primarily determined by in- formation processing skills. Therefore, unspecific testing which focuses on general motorabilities or body measures may not provide enough useful information about future success in these types of sports. A third, and maybe the most difficult question is concemed with the statistical assumptions that are based on the Gaussian bell curve, which underlie most of the talent detection projects. The main idea of this model is that abilities are normally distributed within the (young)population, and therefore only the bearers of extreme ability levels have to be identified. This selection process can be problematic, as one can tell from the various cut off limits that are proposed by sport scientists, and which were consequently adopted by different federationsand/or institutions. A limit of 2 standard deviations above the average performance of an age population leads tothe integration of 2.3 percent of the children of each age population into the talent promotion system. This value served as the gold standard in the GDR and for the Russian talent selection procedure at the entrance of the elite sport schools (Ljach, 1997). If one follows the standards of 3 standard deviations proposed by the Czech Kovar (1981), then only 0.13 percent of the group of interest performs in an acceptable manner. The suggestion of a 4 standard deviation threshold by Matsudo (1996), who regards only 0.003 percent of the population to be capable of an elite athletic career can be viewed as very extreme. 2.2 Talent Skills Make Up) The talent promotion issue (see Fig. 1) still leaves a lot of unanswered questions concemingthe make-up of the initial performance of young boys and girls. When speaking of peak performances in adult athletes, one very often does not know muchabout the structure of the basic motor or cognitive abilities. Even less is known about the typical structures of children s initial performances in most of the various sports disciplines. Therefore, it is quite unclear which skills should be tested. The problem is demonstrated by an anecdote which was reported by Blanksby (1980):  The first talent identification test I saw was at school. When classes marched into the pool the teacher stood by the door, looking down at the ground and pulling various peo- ple out of the line - the ones who walked with the feet splayed out. He made them con- centrate on breaststroke. That school did always well in breaststroke events. (13). When testing a newcomer for the first time, not much is known about the amount of earlier training and support. In general, this is not a severe problem, since in talented children motor experience appears to be closely linked to a) a supportive movement environment, and b) to a motivated family that promotes the motor development of the youngsters. Poppleton and Salmoni (1991) support these findings in their study on differences between 8-17 years old talented swimmers (n=77) as compared to non-competitors (n=34) or other (less successful) athletes (n=71). The differences between these three groups were greatest in re- gard to parental encouragement, parental expectations, and fathers who had been successful in sport. 11
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