The most common but least effective way of selecting sports talents

Especially in the period of pubescence, there are noticeable differences in some features (anthropometric, strength, etc.) between individuals born at the beginning and the end of the same year. Athletes born at the beginning of the year are usually described as sports talented but often (unconsciously) only take advantage of the temporary benefits of their date of birth.

30 Jul 2021 Michal Bozděch

Development and evolution of abilities and skills accelerate during adolescence, causing notable differences between peers with small age differences. There are valid and reliable tests (e.g. laboratory blood test) that can help us accurately determine the likelihood of an individual's talents in a given sport. Yet, coaches and parents often determine the talent of their children or wards by simply comparing performance to their peers.

This method of selecting sports-talented individuals is highly inaccurate and gives the possibility of age bias. Relatively older individuals (born at the beginning of the sports season) are more often referred to as sports talented than relatively younger peers (born at the end of the sports season). In this sense, it is a mere temporary biological advantage resulting from their date of birth, which disappears after the end of adolescence.

Before this process is completed, relatively older individuals who have been identified as sports talent gain experience from elite (mental and physical) training or national and transnational tournaments. However, it is no exception that these individuals end their sports career after the end of adolescence before reaching their sports maximum. This may be due to injury, burnout or loss of a temporary biological benefit and the realizing that they have to make an above-average effort to achieve average results to which they have not been accustomed and which is very demotivating for them.


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