Talent Identification and Development in Male Football: A Systematic Review

Hugo Sarmento, M Teresa Anguera, Antonino Pereira, Duarte Araújo
Sports Medicine 2018, 48 (4): 907-931

BACKGROUND: Expertise has been extensively studied in several sports over recent years. The specificities of how excellence is achieved in Association Football, a sport practiced worldwide, are being repeatedly investigated by many researchers through a variety of approaches and scientific disciplines.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this review was to identify and synthesise the most significant literature addressing talent identification and development in football. We identified the most frequently researched topics and characterised their methodologies.

METHODS: A systematic review of Web of Science™ Core Collection and Scopus databases was performed according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines. The following keywords were used: "football" and "soccer". Each word was associated with the terms "talent", "expert*", "elite", "elite athlete", "identification", "career transition" or "career progression". The selection was for the original articles in English containing relevant data about talent development/identification on male footballers.

RESULTS: The search returned 2944 records. After screening against set criteria, a total of 70 manuscripts were fully reviewed. The quality of the evidence reviewed was generally excellent. The most common topics of analysis were (1) task constraints: (a) specificity and volume of practice; (2) performers' constraints: (a) psychological factors; (b) technical and tactical skills; (c) anthropometric and physiological factors; (3) environmental constraints: (a) relative age effect; (b) socio-cultural influences; and (4) multidimensional analysis. Results indicate that the most successful players present technical, tactical, anthropometric, physiological and psychological advantages that change non-linearly with age, maturational status and playing positions. These findings should be carefully considered by those involved in the identification and development of football players.

CONCLUSION: This review highlights the need for coaches and scouts to consider the players' technical and tactical skills combined with their anthropometric and physiological characteristics scaled to age. Moreover, research addressing the psychological and environmental aspects that influence talent identification and development in football is currently lacking. The limitations detected in the reviewed studies suggest that future research should include the best performers and adopt a longitudinal and multidimensional perspective.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"