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Sports Psychology and Talent Development

Great environments for talent development in sports create tomorrow's winners

In Denmark as well as internationally, the interest in elite sport is growing and the battle between nations is intensified. Two key arenas in this competition are talent development and sports psychology. Through intensive research in these two areas, LET’S aim is to develop knowledge and methods to create world-class performance. The underlying basis of LET’S research is a holistic approach and to focus attention on social relationships and their effect on athletes' development and results.

Talent development is a key challenge in Danish sports. The number of inhabitants in Denmark is so low that we have to ensure a large degree of success in talent development and in chasing medals on the international scene. This challenge is reflected in other performance domains such as the business community and in the music and film industry. In many regards, we ask the same question: How do we identify and develop the stars of the future in the best possible way?

Talent Research has traditionally focused on 1) talent identification; including how sports organisations find and select the athletes that have the greatest chance of becoming elite athletes; and 2) talent development; including how young athletes specialise and how to determine the right amount of training at the right age.

LET’S research focuses on what characterises good talent development environments in different sports and different countries and also how well talent development environments are created and optimised.

Sports psychology’s focal point is psychological processes involved at the highest level of performance. The modern approach to sports psychology is focused on three psychological levels:

  • The psychology of the individual athlete. This covers the individual athlete’s psychological skills and characteristics.
  • The psychology of the team. This covers processes at any given team and how teams support or hinder the development and achievement.
  • Organisational psychology. This covers the entire environment. Central themes are winning culture, leadership, dialogue between the club, the national team and parents and organisational stress.

Sports psychological knowledge is thus used, not just in sports, but in most performance domains where people aim at achieving great performance under pressure.

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