Exploring the subjective beliefs of expert coaches on ‘talent’ and player selection in German table tennis

Till Koopmann*, Irene Faber, Franziska Lath, Florian Loffing, Jörg Schorer

*Korrespondierende*r Autor*in für diese Arbeit

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


Player development programmes in sports are considered crucial pillars for the development of young players and countries’ international sporting success. As resources are limited, coaches preferably decide which players to select for these programmes at a young age. This is particularly true for early-starting sports such as table tennis. However, the selection criteria used by coaches and the decision-making processes in player selection contexts are widely unknown. To address this gap, we conducted 15 in-depth semi-structured interviews with table tennis coaches with high expertise in the identification and development of talented young players. Here we show that the concept of ‘talent’ and the process of player selection in table tennis are highly complex phenomena with three main areas of interest identified: (a) general aspects regarding ‘talent’ (in table tennis), (b) specific selection criteria including individual as well as environmental aspects, and (c) the process of player selection. One main finding is that coaches see ‘talent’ as dependent on various factors including (relative) age, maturation as well as practice and previous experience. Furthermore, coaches appear to include both individual (e.g., technical skills) and environmental criteria (e.g., parents’ support) in their decision-making process. Finally, the interviews revealed that player selection decisions are usually made by multiple coaches during group meetings, suggesting the relevance of group processes and dynamics. In summary, this study provides new findings regarding the understanding and discovery of ‘talent’ in table tennis that can help practitioners and open new avenues for further research on player selection in sports.
ZeitschriftInternational Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
Seiten (von - bis)1952-1963
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 12.2023


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