Identifying the Psychological Characteristics Desired of Elite Youth Athletes

Toward an Interdisciplinary Approach to Talent Development


  • Daniel Wixey University of South Wales
  • Kieran Kingston


talent, sport science, multidisciplinary, holistic development


Within the milieu of athletic talent development, a multitude of physiological, psychological, social, educational, and biomechanical demands interact to create a complex and challenging environment. This paper set out to identify the psychological characteristics that practitioners from different disciplines look for in their charges with the aim of providing clear direction for interdisciplinary development of an elite youth athlete’s mentality. Eight professionals, practicing at international elite youth level, across multiple disciplines were interviewed to discuss the key psychological attributes required to successfully progress in elite adult sport. Our analysis identified three key psychological characteristics as being important to success from the perspective of practitioners: resilience, self-regulation, and commitment to develop. These findings help to characterise the key psychological characteristics talent development staff deemed important for elite youth athletic success: characteristics that have a shared value across different disciplines, which can facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to psychological support within talent programmes.


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