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Talent identification and early development of elite water-polo players

13:05:06 27.10.2010 posted by admin at 13:05:06 27.10.2010
Abstract of a 2-year follow-up study by Falk B, Lidor R, Lander Y, Lang B. published in J Sports Sci. 2004 Apr;22(4):347-55:

The processes of talent detection and early development are critical in any sport programme. However, not much is known about the appropriate strategies to be implemented during these processes, and little scientific inquiry has been conducted in this area.

The aim of this study was to identify variables of swimming, ball handling and physical ability, as well as game intelligence, which could assist in the selection process of young water-polo players.

Twenty-four players aged 14-15 years underwent a battery of tests three times during a 2-year period, before selection to the junior national team. The tests included: freestyle swim for 50, 100, 200 and 400 m, 100-m breast-stroke, 100-m 'butterfly' (with breast-stroke leg motion), 50-m dribbling, throwing at the goal, throw for distance in the water, vertical 'jump' from the water, and evaluation of game intelligence by two coaches.

A comparison of those players eventually selected to the team and those not selected demonstrated that, 2 years before selection, selected players were already superior on most of the swim tasks (with the exception of breast-stroke and 50-m freestyle), as well as dribbling and game intelligence. This superiority was maintained throughout the 2 years.

Two-way tabulation revealed that, based on baseline scores, the prediction for 67% of the players was in agreement with the final selection to the junior national team.

The authors recommended that fewer swim events be used in the process of selecting young water-polo players, and that greater emphasis should be placed on evaluation of game intelligence.
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