I just don’t see it that way. I see “talent” as being an excuse of why someone else did better and “desire” or “talent” as being the excuse of why your athletes didn’t do as well. What I see by and large in the coaching community is an inability to identify athletes and distinguish between raw values and the ability to train an athlete to higher and higher levels. It takes much greater coaching skill to get more out of athletes who are on the cusp of greatness, but whose abilities are already maximized. In the case of sprinters this is the majority of HS sprinters aged 16-19 is between 10.6-11.0, but the further you get away from 10.6 the larger the potential of the “late bloomers” who start to fill the ranks around 10.9-11.4s for 100m. I am not saying that the 10.6 guys don’t have potential, but those who do are far fewer at 10.6-10.7 than they are at 10.9-11.0.
At the collegiate level if a coach is looking to win he has to offer scholarships to the guys who can get to regionals or score well at conference meets, but at some point that same coach is going to have to develop depth. That depth comes from his athletes who are partial scholarship athletes or walk-ons. What I see is a ton of collegiate coaches are more willing to take on the athlete that their coaching skill is unable to help maximize based on known abilities just because the raw numbers are better under the premise of those athletes having more “talent”.
At the high school level its even more pronounced, when an athlete is very good they use the term talent, but the marginal athlete they don’t see as being talented but as having drive or motivation and the kid who they think as being talented but ends up marginal as being unmotivated, lazy, or lacking drive.
It’s all hogwash, the coach should be focusing on skill acquisition/development working towards perfecting such skills. The coach needs to work on feedback and refinement in feedback to facilitate skill development and acquisition as well as redefine goals intrinsically and towards performance goals and not extrinsically and towards outcome goals, evaluate competence, and reset desire and motivation when needed. This is like 80% of in the field coaching responsibility and ends up being that 80% of coaching community has no idea what this is.
They are not natural characteristics that can be measured unless you live in a totalitarian state which predict possible ability in any sport. What I am saying is the US system by nature of evolutionary system naturally cuts out about 50% of what would be the “talent” pool.
USATF/AAU age groups
After peak numbers in middle school years, track and field experiences a sharp decline in participation at each level. Evaluation of potential shouldn’t stop until around age 25 as this is when 99.9% of the individuals at that age are done maturing. This is why I hate who post-graduate athletes are supported and not just the good ones. You still have athletes who are leaving college who have not reached their potential, partly because of coaching they have received and partly because they haven’t stopped maturing.
Talent is a stupid word unless you use in terms of past tense.