Predictive validity of pattern recall skills for talent selection in handball


Perceptual-cognitive skills play an important role in complex game sports. They are often equated with tactical skills in performance analyses and talent selection decisions. However, few studies have investigated short-term and long-term predictions of performance using perceptual-cognitive skills. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to objectively assess perceptual-cognitive skills of young handball players and to analyze the usefulness of these data for talent selection decisions. A total of 447 adolescent handball players participated in the talent selection of the German Handball Federation. A pattern recall test with animated handball game situations was conducted. At the end of the talent selection, players were selected for the national youth team (short-term). In addition, the highest league of all players was determined ten years later (long-term). A comparison of short-term effects on selected and non-selected players showed no statistically significant differences. Longitudinal comparisons of players (ANOVAs) from 1st and 2nd leagues, 3rd league, and 4th and lower leagues showed a statistically significant effect for female players, F(2,136) = 3.79, p = .02, f = 0.24, CI 90%(0.06; 0.36), and a non-significant effect for male players, F(2,159) = 1.66, p = .19, f = 0.14. Overall, pattern recall skill was not related to short-term in either group, but was a long-term predictor of success in female, but not male players. This difference may reflect variability in systemic support and opportunities in the female versus male pathways.