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Understanding if my child is talented

Talented athletes encounter many challenges and these are not restricted only to their sport. Some sporting environments are more successful than others in supporting young athletes on their pathway towards the elite level. In this section we provide a range of information to help you support your talented child as best as possible.

We view sport talent as a set of competences and skills developed from a basis of innate potential combined with training. Further, we see sport talent as the ability to exploit the strengths, and overcome the weaknesses, within a sporting environment.

As a parent you may find your child is labelled “talented” and included in a special talent programme, e.g., a football academy. Talent identification refers to finding young children who posses qualities that predict future excellence. However, early identification and selection programmes have low overall effectiveness.

No matter how talented, no one reaches a high level without a considerable amount of training. Training includes deliberate, structured practice as well as self-initiated play-type activities completed for fun. Both deliberate structured practice, and fun, play-like activities are equally important. Evidence is clear that early specialisation (i.e., only doing one sport) and a focus on deliberate practice at an early age is not a necessary precondition for reaching an elite level in sport.



Questions about Talent

What are typical talent myths?

Talent development is full of myths. Such myths include the idea that being talented is a guarantee for success, that winning at an early age is a prerequisite for elite performance later in life, and that talented young people need to train in specific ways. These are myths and we discuss them in more detail in our other fact sheets.

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How do I know if my child is talented?

Talent identification is very difficult, and there is a large element of opinion or  taste in coaches’ evaluations. Being labeled a “talent” is not easy for children. You can help children who are (not) recognised by placing less emphasis on talent, encouraging them to train, and talking to them about handling adversity.

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What is a good talent development environment?

A successful talent development environment is not necessarily one in which the athletes win youth championships. Rather it is one in which the athletes develop into successful senior/adult athletes. Successful environments have features such as supportive training groups, role models, and long term development focus.

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What is a good talent mindset for young people?

Athletes with a fixed mindset tend to view talent as natural, see failure as a result of lack of talent, and respond to negative feedback or adversity with a lack of persistence. Athletes with a growth mindset view talent as acquired, see failure as an opportunity to learn, and respond to adversity with persistence. As a parent you can support the development of a growth mindset.

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What are the best things I can do to support my talented child?

We believe there are six main things you can do to help your child. These are detailed in the attached factsheet accessible through the read more link below. 

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Resources for Download

Visit the resources area to search and download our series of helpful documents.

Visit our resources section

Other useful resources are also available, we've provided a few links here


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