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Talent development

Sport New Zealand's Talent Development Framework provides baseline thinking on developing New Zealanders' athletic abilities.

U17 womens football world cup It aims to provide a co-ordinated, lifetime approach - a 'New Zealand Way' - to building athletic talent in a positive and progressive environment.

About the Talent Development Framework

The Talent Development Framework was drafted in 2005 and finalised in 2006. It was developed by a cross-sector taskforce - the Talent Identification and Development Taskforce - after extensive international research into talent identification and development methodologies.

The Talent Development Framework recognises that everyone has a pre-determined genetic makeup. It aims to provide the best possible environment for everyone to reach their individual potential. A 'development pathway' identifies the stages all children, young people, and adults need to pass through to reach this potential.

While the ultimate goal of the development pathway is greater international sporting success, the Talent Development Framework is about much more than elite-level sport.

It recognises that development is holistic, that enhancing movement and sporting skills amongst all children and young people will not only keep people in sport and recreation into adulthood, but also lead to greater cognitive and psychological wellbeing - particularly in young people.

The Framework emphasises the need to reinvigorate informal 'play' - whereby spaces such as the backyard, local park, and school playground are integral to talent development.

Three key settings

Three key settings are identified by the Framework as crucial to the development of a successful pathway.

The Framework stresses the importance of aligned and consistent messages in these settings.

Three primary stages

The Framework identifies three primary stages to the pathway:

  1. Foundation: Developing all children's fundamental movement and sporting skills, and confidence. Confidence and competence in sport and physical activity stimulates ongoing active lifestyles.
  2. Participation: Retaining people in sport and recreation through teenage years into lifelong participation. The secondary school years and those immediately following see a significant drop-off in participation. Continued skills development and enjoyable sport and recreational experiences will lead to far greater retention rates.
  3. High Performance: Inclusive, well-targeted talent identification processes will give athletes with the potential for elite success, access to a high performance programme. This programme needs to provide an holistic development pathway through appropriate coaching, competition structures, and support networks. The ultimate goal is greater international sporting success. (HPSNZ website.)

Looking forward

To succeed, the Talent Development Framework and development pathway need to be embraced by all sporting, recreational and educational stakeholders - as well as other key stakeholders - across New Zealand.

It needs to become the 'New Zealand Way', with everyone understanding the importance at all stages of the pathway of providing enjoyment, skill enhancement, and confidence in physical activity, sport and recreation.

About the Talent Identification and Development Taskforce

The Taskforce was commissioned by the former Sport and Recreation New Zealand and chaired by Sir Ronald Scott. It investigated whether it was possible to predict future talent based on an athlete's current performance.

The Taskforce made the following findings:

  1. Talent is dynamic and multi-dimensional, and cannot be accurately or easily predicted.
  2. Gifted athletes can emerge at any stage of development.
  3. Environment, genetics, mental ability, physiology, and support are all key to developing talent.
  4. Environment is the easiest element to influence.
  5. Some common attributes of top performing athletes are as follows:
    • they were very active as children
    • they specialised in one sport later in their development
    • they were motivated by the joy of sport rather than winning
    • they had access to coaching from an early age.
  6. Playing a range of sports developed a more advanced skill set for an athlete than concentrating on one sport from an early age.
  7. Inhibiting factors were a lack of social and financial support, and fathers who demanded success


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