The Player Potential Profile – an integrated, practical approach to Talent Identification and Recruitment in High Performance Sport – Part One

The Player Potential Profile – an integrated, practical approach to Talent Identification and Recruitment in High Performance Sport – Part One

Every now and again, a client will ask me to come up with a new way of doing something to help them achieve their performance goals.

In recent years, a real focus for me has been developing innovative talent identification, recruitment and retention strategies for professional sporting teams.

These next three posts will outline a concept called the Player Potential Profile – an integrated, practical approach to Talent Identification and Recruitment in High Performance Sport.

Regular readers of will know I have been critical of Talent Identification: or more accurately the way that talent i.d. is currently conducted in the western world.

The fundamental thinking behind this criticism is the obsession of talent i.d.-ers with physical testing and physical abilities of potential champions.

Whilst it is indisputable that a degree of physical talent is necessary for success in any high performance sport, competition success at the highest level depends on the optimal blending  of mental, technical, tactical, genetic and cultural / familial factors in addition to physical factors.

The “big six” indicators of a player’s performance potential – the Performance Potential factors are:

  1. Physical abilities;
  2. Personality characteristics;
  3. Playing skills;
  4. Performance abilities;
  5. Pedigree (i.e. genetic makeup);
  6. Preparation ((i.e. environment, family, culture).

The Player Potential Profile concept grew out of a need to provide professional team clients with a simple, practical way of assessing talented players using a cross disciplinary, integrated approach.

It also grew out of a need to provide the Boards of Directors and CEOs of several professional football teams I have worked for with a simple, easy to understand, all inclusive “rating scale” to help them determine which players to recruit and retain.

The development of the Player Potential Profile was based on three core principles:

  1. Can you develop an integrated, interdisciplinary, practical approach to talent id, recruitment and retention for high performance sport?
  2. Can you test, evaluate and analyse the “big six” indicators of player performance using valid, reliable, relevant and meaningful testing protocols?
  3. Can you simplify the results of the testing protocols into a simple, easy to understand format for sports managers, coaching staff, recruitment staff and sports administrators without technical expertise in performance science to help them make better recruitment and retention decisions?

The Player Potential Profile is developed in partnership with the coaching, sports science, sports medicine and strength and conditioning professionals in each team and is a genuine interdisciplinary, performance focused measurement of potential.

Performance Potential Factor Number 1 – Physical abilities:

Finding real physical talent in players of any sport is not difficult – real talent is harder to hide than it is to find!

The first challenge in developing a measure of physical abilities is to find physical testing protocols which are not only scientifically valid and reliable but are also relevant and meaningful to the sport and the Club’s playing philosophy. For example, a 3 kilometre running time trial may be valid and reliable as a test protocol but it may not be relevant or meaningful to a team looking to recruit a player into a power based, explosive role.

The next challenge is to be able to convert the often complex, detailed results from the physical testing protocols into something which has meaning and relevance to non-technical staff, i.e. Board of Directors, CEO etc who may need to be convinced to allocate resources to buy one player or the other.

A Board Chairman, charged with signing off on the recruitment budget is unlikely to be impressed by a “beep test” score of 15.5 or a VO2 max of 76 mls/kg/min so being able to convert test results into something meaningful and relevant to the sport’s decision makers is critical.

In designing the Player Potential Profile the key has been to match the testing protocols with the Club’s long term player development philosophy, i.e. implement a testing process designed to find players with the ability to deliver the Club’s “trademark” playing style.

Performance Potential Factor Number 2 – Personality characteristics:

Ask an experienced coach this question, “What does it take to win at high performance levels?” and invariably you will get a response like this: “You need physical talent driven by determination, desire, passion, commitment, a strong work ethic and courage”. Yet, in spite of the general acceptance of the critical importance of mental skills and personality factors in success in high performance sport, little real focus is given to this area of talent identification and recruitment.

In the Player Potential Profile model, all Performance Factors are considered carefully and with equal focus.

For example, in a professional football team I recently worked with, the coaching staff determined that five personality factors were the most important in their talent identification and recruitment philosophy.

Some fundamental research suggested that there were two scientifically valid and reliable testing tools available to measures these personality factors.

We then worked collaboratively with the coaching team, the test designers and a psychologist to create a unique testing tool based on the original testing tool which met our needs of validity, reliability, relevance and meaning.

In Second Post of the Player Potential Profile, I will cover Playing Skills and Performance Abilities and how they are measured and incorporated into the Player Potential Profile.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • Stuart Wilkinson Posted April 15, 2010 8:01 pm

    Like how you have Integrated personality into profiling, this helps provide a real snapshot view of the preferred behaviour that comes subconsciously to most people.

    I do think this behaviour is social and intellectual – not physical.
    Using this type of profiles may tell us how people will probably respond to their environment. It will also help with the individual’s development, choice of role and their best fit within the environment.

    It provides a starting point or compass to get the best out of a most expensive and valuable resource the personality!! thats talked about so much and never developed! love this stuff

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 16, 2010 6:33 am

      Thanks Stuart.

      With players and playing talent being the focus (and biggest expense) of all professional sports, to me the most critical step forward is to identify better ways of ensuring the talent we identify and recruit has what it takes to deliver what the Club needs.
      By expanding the profiling systems and making them integrated, multi disciplinary and looking at the whole player from the 6 P perspective, we have a better chance of finding, recruiting and retaining the right players.

      Thanks again,


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