Coaches` subjective talent criteria in top-level soccer

Jokuschies, Nina Maria; Conzelmann, Achim (12 February 2015). Coaches` subjective talent criteria in top-level soccer. In: 7. Jahrestagung der sportwissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft der Schweiz (SGS). „Sportwissenschaften - Im Plural ?“. Sportwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft der Schweiz

In professional soccer, talent selection relies on the subjective judgment of scouts and coaches. To date, little is known about coaches´ “eye for talent” (Christensen, 2009, p. 379) and the nature of the subjective criteria they use to identify those players with the greatest potential to achieve peak performance in adulthood (Williams & Reilly, 2000). Drawing on a constructivist approach (Kelly, 1991), this study explores coaches´ subjective talent criteria. It is assumed that coaches are able to verbalise and specify their talent criteria, and that these are related to their talent selection decisions based on instinct.

Participants and generation of data. Five national youth soccer coaches (Mage = 55.6; SD = 5.03) were investigated at three appointments: (1) talent selection decision based on instinct, (2) semi-structured inductive interview to elicit each coaches´ talent criteria in detail, (3) communicative validation and evaluation of the players by each coach using the repertory grid technique (Fromm, 2004).

Data Analysis:
Interviews were transcribed and summarized with regard to each specified talent criterion. Each talent criterion was categorized using a bottom-up-approach (meaning categorization, Kvale, 1996). The repertory grid data was analysed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis.

Results and Discussion:
For each coach, six to nine talent criteria were elicited and specified. The subjective talent criteria include aspects of personality, cognitive perceptual skills, motor abilities, development, technique, social environment and physical constitution, which shows that the coaches use a multi-dimensional concept of talent. However, more than half of all criteria describe personality characteristics, in particular achievement motivation, volition and self-confidence. In contrast to Morris (2000), this result shows that coaches have a differentiated view of the personality characteristics required to achieve peak performance. As an indication of criterion validity, moderate to high correlations (.57 ≤ r ≤ .81) are found between the evaluations of the players according to the coaches´ talent criteria and their talent selection decision. The study shows that coaches are able to specify their subject talent criteria and that those criteria are strongly related to their instinctive selection decisions.

Christensen, M. K. (2009). "An Eye for Talent": Talent Identification and the "Practical Sense" of Top-Level Soccer Coaches. Sociology of Sport Journal, 26, 365–382.
Fromm, M. (2004). Introduction to the Repertory Grid Interview. Münster: Waxmann.
Kelly, G. A. (1991). The Psychology of Personal Constructs: Volume One: Theory and personality. London: Routledge.
Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews: An introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Morris, T. (2000). Psychological characteristics and talent identification in soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 715–726.
Williams, A. M., & Reilly, T. (2000). Talent identification and development in soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 657–667.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Psychology and Research Methods

UniBE Contributor:

Jokuschies, Nina Maria and Conzelmann, Achim


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment


Sportwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft der Schweiz




Nina Maria Jokuschies

Date Deposited:

30 Mar 2015 16:24

Last Modified:

30 Mar 2015 16:24


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