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Talent Development by Design

By Kristen Dieffenbach
Master Level Peaks Coaching Group Coach

Peaks Coaching Group

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In cycling, as in most sports, talent is typically thought as “a special natural ability or aptitude”.  While this is technically an accurate use of the word ‘talent’, this definition alone is over emphasized and extremely limiting when pursuing peak potential.  Unfortunately, the concept of ‘talent’ comes with many inaccurate assumptions such as you either have it or you don’t or that talent shows itself early. These types of viewpoints hold athletes back and provide little direction or understanding for parents and coaches seeking to help someone discover, develop and enjoy their talents.

Over the past 15 to 20 years researcher and educators have sought to better define and understand talent and more specifically the process of talent development across many domains of human achievement from math and science, to music and sport.  Below is a list of the key concepts influencing current thinking and best practices for talent development.  A starter list of valuable resources for anyone interested in helping develop talent is also provided.

Key Talent and Talent Development Concepts

Top Resources for Talent Development
Long Term Athlete Development Model and Resources from Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L)

            The LTAD model was developed by researchers and educators drawing on research across a broad spectrum of physical, psychological and social development sciences. Currently, the LTAD model provides one of the most comprehensive and user friendly models of talent development designed to build foundational healthy movement skills, positive lifetime activity habits and to maximize the potential for true talent development.

Books on Talent Development Worth Reading:

Dr. Bloom’s book has had a major influence on the current thinking and theories of talent development.  This work is based on the talent development journeys of 120 talented individuals across many domains and provides key summary best practices for the process.

Published in 2009, Coyle uses engaging stories of elite achievers to explore how talent is developed.  Key themes center on master coaching, motivation and practice.

In this top 2010 book, reporter Colvin examines talent development using the latest theories on the value of ‘deliberate practice’ and the role it plays in achieving top performance. 

This book profiles a long term study that examined the day to day experiences of teenagers identified as having aptitude across domains.  It provides insight into the things that helped and hindered their efforts, motivation and opportunities to develop their talents.