Talent Identification is a very important aspect for any program to come to terms with. Even those teams that pride themselves on having ample resources to bring players to their club will learn they must be able to identify the right talent or risk wasting money, over and over again. The process of talent identification though can be fraught with challenges and pitfalls. One very rapidly growing way to help ensure the right decision is being made for the right reasons is to collect as much information about the individuals being target by a program as possible. This evidence while not the only thing to be used in making a decision, does help add detail around the choice and options available and how these can be worked with to achieve the best results for a program in the long run.
Talent Scouts and Coaches can easily Assess Potential in a Subjective Context; Use Testing to help gather Objective Evidence
When discussing talent identification the term “potential” will often go hand in hand. This is because if discussing a young player the focus is on the skills present and how these can be linked or developed to meet the standards of competition. For a senior player stepping up to the next level of competition this potential is used in the context of the sports athlete having the building blocks to be able to compete now, or in the very near future. In both instances though potential plays a key part in the decision as to if a player will be accepted into a program or not.
Coaches and talent scouts alike can spend all day discussing every player’s potential and never really come any closer to separating players from one another with any real or measurable evidence. So instead of just having subjective discussions about players start bringing in evidence about the physiological and psychological performance of players.
Fitness Testing is a very common strategy for highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of player’s physiology. This is not the only thing a coach should use in making a decision, but it should be one piece of the puzzle in determining the best option and making the best selection within the talent identification process. In every competition, the players participating will have standards within which the majority of players fall within. These base points once established can be very useful in identify players who are capable of meeting the demands posed by the competition. For example, in basketball this might include vertical leap or speed over twenty metres.
As with fitness test, Psychological Testing can also be carried out to determine a player’s personality traits, their character’s strengths and weaknesses and their fit with the programs beliefs and philosophy. All of these elements about a player can be exposed and even discussed with the player so further detail can be added to the description about the individual within the talent identification process. If you want some further insight about just how much information and the variety that can be collected, simply search the internet for perspective or new employee testing undertaken by organisations in regards to workplaces to see how these activities can be conducted with relevant to your programs talent identification.
Most sports program will already have ample testing for the fundamental technical and tactical skills needed to compete within an age group or level of competition. Coaches should be very active in making sure they use a specific and detailed Skills Matrix for this purpose. This will help identify the full range of skills the player has and expose those areas of weakness. A programs skill matrix should be a collaborative piece of work from a number of coaches and works best when reviewed annually to ensure the document is updated regularly to meet the demands of the program.
The second part of the Technical and Tactical Skills Testing is to record information about an athlete’s performance through carefully selected testing protocols. For example in basketball a simple testing protocol might be to record how many foul shots a player can make out of one hundred. As long as each athlete is using the same testing protocols this information will definitely identify the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
Testing is not the same as doing within a game. It can never replace the ability of a knowledge coach or talent scout finding a player who can make the grade and go onto become something special. What testing does do though is provide additional information to make a decision with. This is especially helpful with separating players who are very similar at the very first glance when trying to get the most out of the talent identification process.