Talent Identification

There should be testing and searching for talent at every school. Talent identification is not just doing an athletic event. Talent identification should be done at every school to search for talent. Owen and Maryna did 5 years of research at a primary school in Johannesburg, to see what can be done to improve all the various training theories and methods for sport development and coaching young children. Owen also developed identification tests to search for talent and to test a whole school or group of athletes. With these tests, new and raw talent can be discovered without a child being coached by a professional coach or teacher.

At certain schools where Owen has done his talent identification tests, hundreds of talented athletes have been discovered. These children should now be developed to become senior athletes. What we have found with the research is that some of the young athletes with less talent, sometimes win at their school trials, because they are developed properly. Sometimes the really talented children have to do all the sports and activities at school and they are not developed properly, because they go from the one sport activity to the other. These talented children go from one sport to the other and no proper development of for example speed, pure speed, proper technique and jumping development etc. takes place. That is one of the reasons why we don’t have many good senior athletes in our country.

Schools just have trials by doing normal athletic events. There are many talented children hidden in our schools and if children can be scouted and told about their hidden talents, they will also become more interested in sports like athletics, for example. The children who have been coached for a year by a good or bad coach win the school events, but in every school there are children with lots of talent that have not been discovered. Schools have trials by doing the proper 60m/80m/100m to 400m or long jump, discus etc. and again the child who has been coached by a good or bad coach wins. Sometimes the talented child is not selected and gets no chance to run for his/her school and stops training.

Contemporary performance demands are so high in Track and Field that athletes with average ability are not going to succeed, even if the best training methods are employed. This emphasizes the importance of correct selection procedures for a particular event. The height of an athlete is often important for selection. However, coaches, frequently prefer shorter athletes because they are usually better coordinated and produce better short term results than their tall counterparts. It occurs regardless of the fact that the taller athletes may have a much better potential.

Some tips in testing, identification and development:

  1. Talent identification should occur when an athlete is not currently participating in athletics, but is identified as showing potential in an athletic event.
  2. If an athlete is already participating in Track and Field, cross country or on the road and is shown to be talented in that event this is more appropriately referred to as talent development.
  3. Talent identification is most suited to events which have obvious physical and physiological requirements. In events where success is determined by skill and strategy the ability to predict performance is more difficult.
  4. The training programme must be coordinated in schools and test results should be sent to provincial bodies.
  5. Base level screening tests can be administrated by teachers and analyzed by athletic coaches and the provincial coaching committee.
  6. After identification sport-specific tests should be used to refine the selection process.
  7. This can only be successful when a well structured and resourceful talent development programme is provided.

Owen has developed talent identification tests for track and field over many years, by combining most of the world’s top countries identification and testing methods and his own tests, he developed these talent identification tests over many years and the tests can be used with great success.

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