Emphasize Individual Pathways to Sport Expertise

Research on expertise, talent identification and development has tended to be mono-disciplinary, typically adopting genocentric or environmentalist positions, with an overriding focus on operational issues. In this paper, the validity of dualist positions on sport expertise is evaluated. It is argued that, to advance understanding of expertise and talent development, a shift towards a multidisciplinary and integrative science focus is necessary, along with the development of a comprehensive multidisciplinary theoretical rationale. Here we elucidate dynamical systems theory as a multidisciplinary theoretical rationale for capturing how multiple interacting constraints can shape the development of expert performers. This approach suggests that talent development programmes should eschew the notion of common optimal performance models, emphasize the individual nature of pathways to expertise, and identify the range of interacting constraints that impinge on performance potential of individual athletes, rather than evaluating current performance on physical tests referenced to group norms.


Did you grab the essence of that abstract? I'll wait while you read it once more and let everything sink in...

Fascinating. Often in team sport the coaches and, thus, the athletes become focused on everyone on the team achieving the same physical performance norms. For example: everyone on a soccer team must achieve or exceed 11-minutes on the Beep Test, every front row player on a women's volleyball team must touch at least 10'0", or every 100m sprinter must perform at least 75 continuous push-ups.

But what if EVERY athlete simply can not achieve these norms? As a coach, what is the message you send? Is it one of insistence upon achieving the norm at the detriment to development of more important skill sets? Or to the detriment of continuing to develop a well-rounded athlete that in the long-run may, in fact, exceed these norms?

The message in this abstract ("Expert performance in sport and the dynamics of talent development."

Sports Medicine

2010.) is the same message we send to parents, athletes, and coaches alike at SAPT. We constantly emphasize individual successes and performance over and above any comparative norms. And this is the ROOT of why we provide unique and individual programming for every single one of our clients. Why would you train exactly like someone else? You're unique, right? I know I am. My strengths are different than yours. And my weaknesses will be just as unique to me.

Do yourself or your kid a favor when looking for performance training options (be it physical preparation, technical skill development, or mental performance) and seek out the sources that provide an individually focused approach. Yes, it will cost a few dollars more than, say, an enormous "speed camp" cattle call, but in the end it will be well worth it to foster true performance development in your athlete.