Sports Science and Talent Identification in sports

Sports science is a cross-disciplinary field that applies scientific underpinnings from a number of disciplines including physiology, psychology, motor learning and control, nutrition and biomechanics in an effort to comprehend and maximise human sports performance (SSEP, 2011). Sports scientists are trained experts who assist sports people to achieve the best possible sporting performance. They evaluate, research, assess and advise on coaching, training, competition and recovery practices in all areas and levels of sport. The knowledge and expertise that sports science and scientists can offer to anyone involved in sport can be truly instrumental to the development of their skills and abilities.

Talent identification is a key resource that is needed to help pave the pathway to development of elite and professional athletes. Whilst there is no single definition for talent identification, it can simply be described as the process of recognising current participants with the potential to excel in a particular sport (Williams & Reilly, 2000). The word ‘talent’ designates the outstanding mastery of systematically developed abilities (or skills) and knowledge in at least one field of human activity to a degree that places an individual at least among the top 10% of age peers who are or have been active in that field or fields (Gagné, 2004). In the truly competitive world of sports, the early identification of talented individuals is extremely important.

This process is essential for creating a viable pathway for the formation and development of future athletes who have the potential to get to the top of the podium as elite or professionals. Talent Identification not only involves the identification of talent from a young age, but also assists in identifying differences in expertise levels of novices to elites through lab-based and on field/court experimentations with anticipation, decision-making, reaction time and more. Sports science research, testing and application, along with proper training programmes (inclusive of strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology, etc.) and the coach’s experienced eye, knowledge and guidance greatly increases the chances for successful outcomes.

What can a Doctor of Health Sciences do for you?

Some areas of expertise are:

  • Consultation for talent identification programmes and development pathways in sport
  • Design and implementation of talent identification strategies
  • Workshops on talent identification and motor control and learning
  • Research