Talent Identification for amazing Speed and Power Athletes 1

Talent Identification and Loyalty

This article will discuss how to identify talent for speed and power athletes. And tests for speed that and can conduct.


July 18, 2020

We are carrying on from our topic on Talent Identification for speed and power athletes.

Here is a story I will be sharing with the readers. An Australian coach friend shared that these two boys were 17 and ran 12.1 and 12.2; they had approached other coaches and got rejected by all of them. 

The coaches said the boys were too old and not fast enough, so my friend coached them; within three years, the boys ran 10.6. They went to Australian nationals, the two of them can hardly believe it; they said on the day, “could you have believed three years ago we will be here.” “Nah, bro, no way I never dreamt this” well, after they both ran well at nationals, including 21.3 and 21.6 PB in a 200. 

A coach approached them and said, “Hey, you guys are very talented, but u will get even faster if you’re with me” unfortunately, the boys recognized he was one of the coaches that had rejected them when they ran 12 secs at the start … the boys said you know that guy there and pointed to my friend.

He is Our Coach



The coach then went to my friend and said, why did you teach your guys to be so mean. He responded they are not being mean they are realistic. That is what you call loyalty.

And yes, it was loyalty by the boys. The coach then went to my friend and said, your athletes are very arrogant. He responded. You didn’t want them; you said we couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks.

So if they are now three years older than before, what can you teach them?

The coach said ( me ) I take anyone who wants to learn and doesn’t disrupt the group dynamics.

You only want to take the achievers. Both coaches are using talent identification. One is doing it before the results are achieved; one does it after.

My point is this I have seen athletes in the Philippines change coach for as little as 1000 Pesos where is the loyalty?. 
In a country of 100 Million+ People, it baffles me how some coaches are very eager to grab athletes from other coaches rather than develop their talent.
I mean, the Philippines has a lot more people than Australia’s 25 million.

Second Point: Coaching Accountability

On a well-structured program, athletes should be improving their performances every year they are with a coach. Understandably the first year will be the most significant jump in performance.

But there should still be annual improvements each year while the athletes are in their prime years. Coaches who cannot improve athletes need to take a look and re-evaluate their programs or let the athlete go to a coach that can improve them, especially if the athlete has had 2-3 years of No improvement.

This is what is known as “COACHING ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Athletics can vary as far as 25 to 30 years of age, depending on the event.


Talent Identification tests for Speed and Power Athletes

Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes


Coaches seldom realize when they decide to place an athlete in an event at a young age exactly how critical this decision is at this time when the coach is merely thinking of picking up a few points.

An athlete’s entire career might be:

  • bolstered
  • wrecked
  • and a pattern of self-confidence
  • or eternal self-doubting can be established

This decision might well have determined whether an athlete will eventually experience success or failure, receive a scholarship or not, or remain in the sport. It’s a serious matter. So here are my thoughts on talent identification.

One Fundamental question to ask is

Are you sure all your athletes are in the correct event or the right sport?


Talent Identification tests for Speed and Power Athletes Introduction

Talent Identification.  Before event selection, our first calling is talent identification. 

Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes

When looking for athletes for speed-oriented events, people who can run fast are the best candidates.

 But how can you tell who might be fast later in life?

 When finding athletes for the

  • Sprints
  • Hurdles
  • Jumps
  • Throws

 There are three key variables to look

1.The ability to produce force quickly

2.The ability to move body parts (the limbs) quickly

3.Body type

Talent Identification tests for Speed and Power Athletes The Ability to Produce Force Quickly.

A significant clue in the search for talent in the speed and power events is producing large forces quickly, showing the athlete’s power and elasticity. This ability can be measured subjectively by watching youngsters perform hopping and jumping games. e.g., standing long jump

What you are looking for is a high ratio of displacement to ground contact time. In short, you want people who can jump high or far but seem to spend little time on the ground.

Sometimes in the triple jump, you find athletes who seemingly peck at the ground but still jump reasonable distances – these are athletes who will become champions when taught to use correct impulse values. Likewise, watch kids on the basketball and volleyball courts, looking not only for the person who can jump but the person who can land from a jump and quickly jump high again. The cutting and direction changes you see in sports like soccer, football, and basketball are like sideways plyometrics. Athletes who are good at these skills fit this mold as well.

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Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes From Sprint Ninja Coaching Services Website

Athletic talent identification is approached from many different angles, depending on which country you are looking at and the sport for which athletes are being recognized and recruited. 

This article looks at two things.

  1. The first being inborn talent identification and prediction of future success.
  2. Secondly, we will look at athletic development and the changeable aspects of young athletes throughout various stages of an athlete’s life.


How Much Athletic Ability is Inborn?

It is always popular to believe that great athletes are born and not made.

This comes from those who train hard for many years but can’t reach the champions’ heights.

That is why these types of people need a backup plan in athleticism.

The truth is that when an athlete is young, they are more pliable.

Meaning that a child’s physiology can change many more aspects through training than is possible for an adult.

Also worth noting is that training a child is vastly more different than training an adult athlete.

Specificity is less critical, and a child can excel in a broader range of domains than a fully mature person.

Let’s look at this from another angle.

Specific characteristics in physical and mental development have are genetic to a certain degree.


For instance

    • West Africans are often great sprinters.
    • East Africans are often great distance runners.
    • Asians usually have faster reaction times.
    • Caucasians to be naturally superior swimmers.

    This side of athletic talent identification is easy to work on. So certain genetic and environmental factors surround entire races of people that identifying talent is a broad activity, making it a lot simpler.

But what about people of the same nationality?

Athletic talent identification needs to work within the confines of specific races of people. 

Without scientific testing and muscle biopsies, how are talent scouts able to assess future athlete ability? 

It has long been thought that things such as muscle fiber type distribution are genetically determined. However, this would make it hard to identifying potential at a young age because the athlete has not yet had time to develop. 

But maybe the answer is a simple one. It may come down to what the child athlete is interested in and spends the most time on. 

Several studies have shown that many factors determine the muscle fiber type and other physiological characteristics related to athletic performance. 

Genetics is only part of it. For example, during childhood muscle, fiber type has been shown to change in response to the stimulus it gets during the younger years of childhood and adolescence. So the activities during childhood may be a substantial contributing factor to the percentage of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers and other athletic performance aspects.


Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes Approaches to Athletic Talent Identification

There are many approaches to athletic talent identification. Some sports in certain countries may have a particular, systematized approach that lasts for years. Other sports in other countries use less formal methods and may get as many children involved in the sport as possible and see who excels.


Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes Here, we will look at three common approaches…

Systematic, Governmental Systems: These are methods commonly used by former Soviet countries, China, and a limited number of others. These systems use methods over a long period, such as those mentioned earlier.

  1. Systematic, Non-Governmental Systems:

This is the most common form of athletic talent identification. It involves sporting bodies, companies, and individual teams looking at children in many different contexts and recruiting based on complex issues such as sociology, economic factors, attitude, physical ability, technical proficiency, and more.

  1. Non-Systematic Approaches:

These approaches are far less formal and don’t involve using a specific method across the board. This sort of athletic talent identification occurs in prevalent sports such as soccer, rugby, cricket, etc. There is already high enough participation in the sport that there is no need to recruit fresh from those who don’t currently participate.

Effectiveness of Methods

I am proud that my home country, Australia, utilizes some of the world’s most influential athletic talent identification methods. Australia’s approach is not merely the old-style method of recruiting based on current athletic ability.

In Australia, coaches and scouts use a long-term approach involving developing young athletes who show potential and identify their talent through training camps, competition seasons, etc. This allows for a more organic process and provides scouts with a very long look at a young athlete’s development over time.

Contrast this with older methods used throughout the world. The classic approach assessed youths of various ages in school sport and physical education programs and administered tests. Children that performed well in certain areas were steered towards individual sports.

This did not account for a person’s interest in the sport, potential for development, attitude towards training, psychological capacity, etc. Thus, talent identification of this type produced very modest results.

Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes The Point of all This

Talent is a complex issue involving many variables. An athlete’s potential is determined by various factors such as environment, training, developed ability, psychological predisposition to performance, and many other aspects. The future success of an individual cannot be determined simply by their current level of knowledge.
Nor can a necessary, rudimentary development process be expected to produce champion athletes magically.

Many readers of this article will be coaches and parents and maybe even young athletes themselves. So this needs to narrow down to how athletic talent identification and the athlete’s development come together. If and changed athletes’ and coaches’ mindsets, it would change the potential for many young athletes who would otherwise not be given a chance.

As I mentioned before, I was an average athlete in many sports at school. I never got the blue ribbon, but I never got the wooden spoon either. Ability such as this is mostly unnoticed because there are no elite, stand-out performances to grab attention.

Later I became an elite-level sprinter throughout my high school years. I ran a time of 10.72s for the 100 meters at age 16. One of the primary reasons was due to training hard and knowing how to seek out information. I couldn’t afford a coach, so I studied until I knew to be a coach myself. This is a mindset and, therefore, a contributing factor to my high school sprinting success.

Development-Based athletic talent identification methods

 Observing how a young athlete performs currently will not always accurately predict what they will do in the future. Therefore, my advice to parents and coaches of young athletes is to invest time and energy into the young ones who prove and can coach them, not just those with natural ability.

A young athlete with a high tolerance for high-level training and the discipline to put in the work is most likely to reach some success level. Naturally or genetically gifted young athletes achieve results and become champions because they are nurtured.

But there is a high drop-out rate for such athletes because this psychological drive doesn’t enter into the equation. On the flip-side, we don’t see many non-gifted athletes coming through as champions because they are largely ignored. As a result, these athletes are not as often taken into athletic training camps and are less likely to gain athletic performance scholarships.

Athletic talent identification is a complex issue.

Athletic talent identification is a complex issue. For this reason, there are many variables to consider that go beyond the simple assessment of ability and performance. Through my research and experience working with young athletes, I have discovered that a combined approach proves most useful.

It pays for an athlete to show some level of natural performance; however, this is a minimal aspect in a very complex set of variables. Therefore, the athletes who get into development programs should be predisposed to elite training and performance.

This includes ambition, rate of improvement, the psychology of performance and training, and a baseline level of skill and proficiency. As a result, the athletes often perform moderately well in a wide range of sports with more longevity and development potential.

Athletes that are too highly specified at an early age are the ones that peak then drop off well before they have achieved anything significant in their sport. The athlete needs to have a wide range of skills and the mindset to go with it. They also need to show some level of promise. This requires them to be given a chance to develop under supervision.

So I’ll leave it at that for now. Look to the systems that are working and the ones that aren’t.

Which ones are based almost exclusively on raw ability?

Which ones provide a development and monitoring program?

Why the 10,000 Hour Rule is not accurate

Some exciting articles with points against the 10,000 Hour rule of Malcolm Gladwell this is in opposition to the book the Talent Code mentioned earlier in this post.

In essence, Ericsson’s theory suggests that acceptable practice in a particular skill can take anyone to a proficiency level equivalent to that of a top classical musician. To illustrate the point, Gladwell focuses on one of Ericsson’s critical studies on violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music.

I summarised the key points opposing the idea.

  1. There is no magic number; 10,000 hours sounds exact and to the point.
  2. Genetics plays a huge part in how fast and can absorb a skill. Unfortunately, the 10,000-hour rule tends to ignore this factor.
    1. e.g., Donald Thomas Bahamas High Jump had only eight months of training to become a world champion. This also probably cross-references with point (4)
    2. This has been thoroughly presented in David Epstein, the Sports Gene, which is the opposite view of the Talent Code.
  3. The environment also plays a huge part.
    1. Access to coaching
    2. Access to required equipment
  4. Psychological factors
      1. Enjoyment
      2. Intrinsic motivation is required for athletes to maintain levels of focus to become elite.
    1. Luck
  5. International level status is attainable in a shorter amount of time if the area is less competitive.
    1. E.g., For instance, Ericsson and colleagues have found that college students could reach a world-class performance for memorizing digits after only 500 to 1,000 hours of training.
  6. Athletes physical limitations on how much dedicated practice is possible
  7. Some coaches who follow this principle make kids focus at an early age on one sport.
      1. Kids should be developing cross-motor skills. In elementary in New Zealand, we spent 2 hours a day of physical activity. Still, we played various games that did not resemble any sport in particular, which involves many short bursts of speed and endurance factors with various movements.
    1. Kids Athletics of IAAF and Little Athletics in most countries encourage kids to develop a variety of skills.

Talent Identification for Speed and Power Athletes More Points

  1. We do not yet know whether anyone with strong enough motivation and spare time could become a virtuoso only through deliberate practice, year in year out.
  2. It ignores the ‘Deliberate play model.’
    1. The deliberate play states that competing in the competition takes, for example, an athletic meet in athletics. As a result, the athlete will gain a lot more experience than merely by focussed practice.
    2. Etc. In an hour of pickup basketball, children will usually spend most of the time playing, developing motor skills through the game. Simultaneously, research on training environments demonstrates that athletes’ time on task varies between 25% to 54% of total training time. The benefits of feedback from experienced coaches outweigh the amount of time not spent playing or practicing! This is why I advise coaches of our youngest athletes to “Just let them play!”

 “I believe the best coaches are not afraid to let children experience multiple sports, and take time off for a family vacation or school event. Those who threaten that child’s place on the team are not furthering their sport; they are cutting the legs out from under it.”


  1. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121114-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-myth
  2. http://changingthegameproject.com/the-10000-hour-myth/
  3. http://www.wired.com/2013/05/so-you-know-that-10000-hours-makes-an-expert-rule-bunk/

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