No Goals, No Glory

Chris Visser (University of Groningen)

Do you have talent or can you be a talent? Does eternal talent exist? Is talent sports specific or domain general? In the Netherlands children are defined as talented at a particular sport. Almost always, these children perform the best at a particular moment in time; for example, they belong to the best 10% of their age category. Within a sport or cluster of similar sports there is an expectation about the age at which the talent trajectory ends and the top has to be reached. This implies that talent trajectories are limited in terms of time. In relation with the available time, the development of a successful sports career depends on which characteristics a child needs to have developed, learned and trained at a certain moment in time. Therefore, the relationship between time and quality of development is crucial in processes of talent identification and development.

Though the road to the top is long, the time talented athletes have to increase their sports performance is relatively short. Those who have a clear goal, are intrinsically motivated and feel successful when they continue to improve regardless of whether they win or lose seem to have the greatest chance of getting the most out of their potential. They take responsibility for their own sports career and score highly on aspects of self-regulation. This is the degree to which an individual is able to learn in an independent, goal-oriented and effective manner by making use of different metacognitive and motivational skills, such as planning, monitoring, evaluation, reflection, effort and self-efficacy. More successful athletes know better what to do and how much effort to put in to realise one’s goals, making the right decisions at the right time and, in particular, creating an environment with opportunities to develop as effectively as possible.

Thursday, August 29, 10.15-10.45
Thematic Session 1: Talent