Training adaptation and Talent Identification


Select one of the following tests, and discuss the scientific foundations of its use as part of a Talent Identification Development program:
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g) Strength measurements


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Talent identification brings about the streamlining of resources in order to generate optimal returns from various sports-related investments. For sports scientists, strength measurements constitute one of the most important tests in any talent identification program. Today, there is a tendency for scientific foundations for the use of various talent identification tests. In most cases, such tests are explored within fully-fledged talent identification development programs. The aim of this paper is to highlight the various issues relating to the use of the strength measurements in talent identification and the extent to which the need for the scientific foundation is felt in this undertaking.


Talent identification results in the streamlining of resources to produce optimal returns from a sports investment. However, the process of talent identification for team sports is complex and success prediction is imperfect. The aim of this review is to describe existing practices in physiological tests used for talent identification in team sports and discuss the impact of maturity-related differences on the long term outcomes, particularly for male participants.

Strength measurements constitute one of the tests that are used in the talent identification development program. Today, many children continue to strive in order to attain excellence in sporting activities. Various tests are needed in order to establish the hidden talents that are possessed by most of these children. In the contemporary world, most of the talent identification tests that tend to gain the most popular are those that are firmly grounded on scientific foundations.

However, no consensus is yet to be reached on the best talent identification programs for use in training adaptation in a world where disciplinary diversity continues to reign in many areas, including sports sciences (Vaeyens, 2008). For this reason, there is a lack of consensus on the best theoretical framework for use in guiding the current practice. Rarely have the success of various talent identification and development programs been assessed. Moreover, the validity of some of the most commonly applied models remains a subject of heated debate.

Training adaptation and strength measurement issues tend to attract a lot of attention whenever there is a need for practical approaches to be used in the identification of talents, particularly among adolescents. However, a trend appears to be emerging, whereby many traditional cross-sectional talent identification models tend to exclude many, particularly late-maturing but ‘promising’ children from many development programs just because of the multidimensional and dynamic nature of given sports talent.

Ideally, talent identification and development programs need to be not only dynamic but also interconnected, such that they take into consideration the maturity status as well as the potential to develop and not to exclude many children at an early age. Moreover, there is a need for real-world talent identification tasks that are much more representative to be developed and deployed using a multidimensional design. The aim should be to increase the efficacy of various talent identification and strength measurement programs.

Training adaptation is an integral aspect of strength measurements since it highlights the role that is played by different types of stimuli in talent identification and development programs (Feldhusen, 1994). It is also extremely important in the explanation of notions relating to actual endurance training tactics that elicit different types of metabolic and morphological changes, such as substrate metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis. With the latest advances in technology, it is possible for the inherent effects of training adaptation strategies to be determined. This helps in the shaping up of the measures used in talent identification. It also forms a basis for the determination of a scientific basis of different talent identification programs.

However, it is not possible to claim at the present time that scientific endeavors relating to technological training adaptation have influenced the different training practices of the world’s most renowned elite athletes (Coffey, 2007). Meanwhile, the new and exciting technologies are a source of insight into the best ways in which training techniques bring about specific muscular adaptations. Ultimately, they provide many clues on the future novel training methodologies, particularly those that are aimed at talent identification.

From a scientific perspective, it is difficult for the separate notions of talent identification from those of training adaptation in any talent identification development program. This is because increased knowledge relating to the mechanisms and interactions of different exercise-induced adaptive pathways within skeletal muscles is critical to a sport scientist’s understanding of the need to maintain functional and metabolic capacity with aging.

From the perspective of scientific foundation, any authentic strength measurement program ought to address the role of genetic factors in determining the potential strengths as well as setting limits. From this perspective, abilities, intelligence, and aptitudes are generally considered the result of various experiences, styles, and motivations. This necessitates the definition of specific talents on the basis of creative insight, precocity, meta-cognitive creativity, and a functional knowledge base.

Pearson (2006) explains the scientific foundation of strength measurements by exploring on the maturation, a major confounding variable in human talent identification during adolescence. During this time, notes Pearson, many hormonal changes take place, bringing about physiological and physical characteristics that are crucial for sporting performance. Pearson (2006) adds that significant changes that take place during puberty make it difficult for adolescent data to be used to predict adult performance. This indicates the need for further research on various scientific subtleties on talent identification procedures and programs that are initiated during puberty.

Furthermore, it is difficult for strength measurements to succeed in talent identification programs without the use of valid and reliable testing procedures that are accepted and implemented within a wide range of performance-related categories. According to Pearson (2006), the limited success of scientifically-based talent identification programs is evident in a wide range of team sports. Advancements in genetics have also been seen to face stiff ethical challenges, particularly in team sports. These challenges put a constraint in the scientific nuances that sports scientists can pursue various adaptation training programs in their efforts to identify talent.

Martindale (2005) points to an unfortunate dearth of research for guiding the process of optimizing talent identification. This is an indication that the best scientific approaches are yet to be wholly adopted in talent identification, particularly in tests such as strength measurements.


According to Martindale (2005), five key generic features emerge consistently whenever strength measurement tests are being carried out. The generic features include wide-ranging coherent messages and support; emphasis on appropriate development and not an early success; individualized and ongoing development; long-term aims and methods; as well as integrated, holistic and systematic development. These features are crucial pointers on the need for both conceptual direction and further research on a more effective model for talent development.


Coffey, V. (2007) The Molecular Bases of Training Adaptation, Sports Medicine, 37(9), 737-763.

Feldhusen, J. (1994) Talent Identification and Development in Education (TIDE), Gifted Education International, 10(1), 10-15.

Martindale, R. (2005) Talent development: a guide for practice and research within the sport, Quest, 57(2), 353-375.

Pearson, D. (2006) Predictability of physiological testing and the role of maturation in talent identification for adolescent team sports, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 9(4), 277-287.

Vaeyens, R. (2008) Talent Identification and Development Programmes in Sport: Current Models and Future Directions, Sports Medicine, 38(9), 703-714.

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