Innate Talent in Sport: Beware of an organismic asymmetry – comment on Baker & Wattie

Keith Davids, Duarte Araújo


Of fundamental, theoretical and practical, relevance to sport science is the conceptualisation of talent, skill and expertise. Revisiting the question of innate talent is timely, given current pressure on young children selected to specialise in sport at an early age. Here, we re-iterate the conceptualisation of talent, skill and expertise in sport as an increasingly functional relationship between an athlete and a specific performance environment, developed over the macro-timescale of years and decades. This ecological dynamics rationale avoids an organismic asymmetry, the bias towards explanations of human behaviour which over-emphasise the role of inherent properties and qualities, identifiable through early selection. An ecological dynamics rationale, eschewing the organismic asymmetry of innate talent, in favour of exploiting and developing individual functionality in specific performance environments, challenges coaches and sport scientists to collaborate in new models for developing talent, skill and expertise.


Talent development – skill adaptation – ecological dynamics – organismic asymmetry – person-environment interactions

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