A content analysis of talent selection research in sports


Talent selection plays a pivotal role in the success of sports federations and professional sport clubs. Identifying and developing exceptional athletes includes assessing individual’s skills, attributes, and potential for future success. While talent selection research has gained significant attention in the sports domain, a comprehensive analysis of the current research field is needed. This study aims to analyze research by conducting a two-step analysis, providing insights into the existing literature, identifying salient constructs used as well as their operationalizations in the selection process. Literature search was done using SCOPUS and WebofScience databases (n = 20,492). Following the PRISMA guidelines (Page et al., 2021), n = 346 empirical articles were included. For the content analysis, firstly a statistical analysis of uni- and bigrams was conducted. Preliminary results provide a comprehensive overview of various aspects within the field. Most articles focused on physical factors, followed by skill assessment and psychological factors. Within psychological research, specifically, motivation was a major focus, assessed through various questionnaires and resulting in mixed findings. Further constructs include mental toughness, anxiety, and coping showing mixed results regarding the relationship with performance. This review yields significant findings for sports researchers regarding key areas in talent selection. Notably, motivation emerges as a prominent factor in sport psychology research, whereby assessment differences should be considered for usage in talent selection. Furthermore, addressing the research gap in psychological constructs, studies should explore diverse methods, e.g., interviews, to evaluate psychological aspects. These insights offer valuable guidance for advancing research in this field