Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 97–109 | Cite as

Talent Identification in Sport: A Systematic Review

  • Kathryn JohnstonEmail author
  • Nick Wattie
  • Jörg Schorer
  • Joseph Baker
Systematic Review



Talent identification (TID) programs are an integral part of the selection process for elite-level athletes. While many sport organizations utilize TID programs, there does not seem to be a clear set of variables that consistently predict future success.


This review aims to synthesize longitudinal and retrospective studies examining differences between performance variables in highly skilled and less-skilled athletes in elite-level sport.


The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used to identify relevant studies (N = 20).


There was a clear overrepresentation of studies that (1) examined physical profiles of athletes (60%); (2) focused on male samples (65%); (3) examined athletes between the ages of 10 and 20 years (60%); and (4) were published between the years 2010 and 2015 (65%). On closer examination, there was a high degree of variability in the factors that were found to discriminate between skilled and less-skilled individuals.


Findings from this review highlight how little is known about TID in elite sport and emphasize the need for greater diversity in TID research.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflicts of interest

Kathryn Johnston, Nick Wattie, Jörg Schorer, and Joseph Baker declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn Johnston
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nick Wattie
    • 2
  • Jörg Schorer
    • 3
  • Joseph Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Kinesiology and Health ScienceYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada
  3. 3.School of Humanities and Social SciencesCar von Ossietzky Universitat OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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