To determine the relationship between multidimensional performance characteristics and level of performance in talented youth field hockey players, elite youth players (n = 38, mean age 13.2 years, s = 1.26) were compared with sub-elite youth players (n = 88, mean age 14.2 years, s = 1.26) on anthropometric, physiological, technical, tactical and psychological characteristics. Multivariate analyses with performance level and gender as factors, and age as the covariate, showed that the elite youth players scored better than the sub-elite youth players on technical (dribble performance in a peak and repeated shuttle run), tactical (general tactics; tactics for possession and non-possession of the ball) and psychological variables (motivation) (P < 0.05). The most discriminating variables were tactics for possession of the ball, motivation and performance in a slalom dribble. Age discriminated between the two groups, indicating that the elite youth players were younger than the sub-elite players. In the guidance of young talented players to the top as well as in the detection of talented players, more attention has to be paid to tactical qualities, motivation and specific technical skills.