Does a perceptuomotor skills assessment have added value to detect talent for table tennis in primary school children?

J Sports Sci. 2018 Dec;36(23):2716-2723. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1316865. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


Talent detection intends to support lifelong sports participation, reduce dropouts and stimulate sports at the elite level. For this purpose it is important to reveal the specific profile which directs children to the sports that connect to their strengths and preferences. This study evaluated a perceptuomotor skills assessment as part of talent detection for table tennis, a sport in which perceptuomotor skills are considered essential to cope with the difficult technical aspects. Primary school children (n = 121) and gifted young table tennis players (n = 146) were assessed using the Dutch perceptuomotor skills assessment measuring "ball control" and "gross motor function". A discriminant function analysis confirmed the added value by identifying primary school children fitting the table tennis perceptuomotor profile of the young gifted table tennis players (28%). General linear model analyses for the assessment's individual test items showed that the table tennis players outperformed their primary school peers on all "ball control" items (P < 0.001). In conclusion, the assessment appears to be of added value for talent detection in table tennis at this young age. Longitudinal studies need to reveal the predictive value for sports participation and elite sports.

Keywords: Psychomotor performance; aptitude; predictive value of tests; racquet sports; youth sports.

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Tennis / physiology*