The past few decades have seen a significant change in the delivery of sport and in trends related to athlete development. However, the notion of talent continues to play a critical role in most athlete development models. In this brief review, we highlight concerns with the notion of talent and how it is conceptualized in high performance sport systems. These include: the assumption that talent is a fixed capacity that can be identified early, the influence of talent beliefs on athlete development, the different levels of risk for talent selection decisions, biases evident in approaches to athlete selection, the inadequacy of current statistical approaches, the problems with using current performance to predict future outcomes, and how short-term priorities and competition between sports for talented athletes undermine the overall efficiency of athlete development systems. These concerns form the basis for more focused discussion of avenues for future work in this field.
1. Interestingly, there is some research (e.g., Baker & Logan, Citation2007; McCarthy, Collins, & Court, Citation2016) to suggest that although relatively younger players are less likely to be selected into development systems, those who are selected are more likely to emerge as more skilled performers in adulthood.