Expert performance in sport and the dynamics of talent development

Sports Med. 2010 Apr 1;40(4):271-83. doi: 10.2165/11319430-000000000-00000.


Research on expertise, talent identification and development has tended to be mono-disciplinary, typically adopting genocentric or environmentalist positions, with an overriding focus on operational issues. In this paper, the validity of dualist positions on sport expertise is evaluated. It is argued that, to advance understanding of expertise and talent development, a shift towards a multidisciplinary and integrative science focus is necessary, along with the development of a comprehensive multidisciplinary theoretical rationale. Here we elucidate dynamical systems theory as a multidisciplinary theoretical rationale for capturing how multiple interacting constraints can shape the development of expert performers. This approach suggests that talent development programmes should eschew the notion of common optimal performance models, emphasize the individual nature of pathways to expertise, and identify the range of interacting constraints that impinge on performance potential of individual athletes, rather than evaluating current performance on physical tests referenced to group norms.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude / physiology*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*