I’ve got to say from the outset that my view is that there is an abundance of absolute rubbish talked about when the subject of Talent ID comes up. Simply it is not an exact science, on the contrary for the amount of money sports spend on it the outcome is negligible.
Let me talk about Rugby League specifically to illustrate this. In 1981 England schools played France in the first under 16s international. At the time there was no talent pathway or large sums of money spent on talent ID. Out of that squad nine players went on to become full internationals. Contrast that with 2001 when a huge pathway that costs millions was in place with various expert support in place and the net return of full international players has been… three!!
Evidence across other sports give us the same results. A complete and utter waste of time and money?
Well, yes and no. The fact is that Talent ID systems are fundamentally flawed in that in most sports those that are identified early are usually the biggest, fastest and strongest. They are the once that excel early in competition, and since most Talent ID is done around competition (games) it becomes flawed as these players don’t make it past junior level.
So is there a better way of doing Talent ID?
Yes there is, but first we need to understand the attributes that those who “make it” display. We also need to listen to those coaches out there with years of experience tell us is the most important factor that separates those that “make it” from the rest. That factor is attitude.
How on earth do you Talent ID attitude. Well if you can work that out you will become very wealthy.
Some research is out there that will help us to devise more sophisticated Talent ID systems in the future. The most useful in terms of helping us as a start point concerns categorising players into four basic groups.
• PALTs: Poor on Attitude – Low on Talent. These players are both low on attitude and aptitude and are highly unlikely to make it to the highest level in sport.
• PAHTs: Poor on attitude – High on Talent. These are the ones that tend to be Talent ID’d early. They are the ones that have the natural skills or physical attributes. Sport is littered with these type of players that lack the necessary desire and commitment to make it to the next level.
• GALTs: Great on Attitude – Low on Talent. The vast majority of elite players come from this category. They are the ones with high levels of desire, commitment and perseverance. Their dedication, discipline and honesty are key factors in enabling them to play at the highest level.
• GAHTs: Great on Attitude – High on Talent. The complete package, and very difficult not to Talent ID. The Tiger Wood’s, Boris Becker’s, Andy Farrell’s, Lional Messi’s and Dan Carter’s of this world. These players will succeed regardless of the situation or challenge.