Are youth sport talent identification and development systems necessary and healthy?


Talent identification and development systems (TIDS) are commonly used in professional sport to convert youth athletes into sporting stars of the future. Acknowledging that only a few athletes can “make it,” the necessity and healthiness of TIDS have recently been questioned based on their increased professionalism, high training, and competition volumes, but limited effectiveness. In this short communication, we suggest that the key issues associated with TIDS are not due to their overall concept, but with how they are designed and implemented. It is recommended that researchers and practitioners determine the worth and value of TIDS by also evaluating the positive health of the athlete rather than solely focusing on performance outcomes. To achieve this, TIDS staff should shape and develop their values, expectations, and day-to-day routines to achieve positive health outcomes focusing on personal development and an athlete-centered culture. In business, this has been termed the concept of “Deliberately Developmental Organisation.” TIDS can deploy the factors (e.g., high-quality staff, expert support services, quality facilities, and learning routines) characteristic of such organizations, to concurrently ensure positive impacts and minimize predictable negative outcomes without losing focus on a drive for sporting performance.


Talent identificationTalent developmentHealthAdolescenceImpact

Key points

  • Talent identification and development systems (TIDS), although aimed at sporting performance, impact upon physical health, education, and psycho-social development within youth athletes.

  • The deployment of TIDS influences whether these impacts are positive or negative, and (un)intended. As only limited numbers of athletes can achieve elite sport success, TIDS effectiveness should encapsulate these impacts and staff should emphasize these impacts to ensure system “worth.”

  • TIDS staff can utilize a “Deliberate Development Organisation” approach to emphasize an athlete-centered culture with high-quality staff, expert support services, and quality facilities to maximize positive outcomes in their athletes. 

Autor / Fonte:Fieke Rongen, Jim McKenna, Stephen Cobley, Kevin Till Sports Medicine—Open 2018 May 22, 4 (1): 18