Trying to spot and select up-and-coming talent in any sport is not particularly easy. Many different countries employ talent identification programs to try and identify and track potential future rowing aces who might go on and produce gold medal performances.
But trying to identify potential athletes who have the mental and skill aptitude to become future champions of rowing is extremely difficult. So how is it possible to identify and unearth raw potential? The professionals in the sport such as scouts, coaches, and so forth all bring different qualities to their searches as there are several factors that need to be addressed in spotting potential sporting greatness.
Is Your Birth-Date Significant
Recently there was a European study of a quarter of a million athletes, which decided that over thirty percent of them were born in the first quarter of the year. And the number of athletes decreased appropriately during the rest of the year. So, is a rower that was born in January to March a better athlete?
Left-Handed or Right-Handed?
It has also been proven that an athlete that happens to be left-handed is far more likely to be selected for sporting education and training. Be that in many sports that do not use the hands in participation of the sport. However, research has shown us that the best coaches and talent scouts are those that practice their trade at a national level, rather than local club coaches. And local talent spotters are also better than amateurs or lay persons.
Row to Podium
In Canada a new system has been put into place to identify new talent and to nurture it called Row to Podium. The ethos behind this program is to identify a further ten percent of Canadian athletes that would otherwise fall by the wayside. The factors that are used in defining potential in the Row to Podium system are: age, arm span, height, weight tests and bike tests. But the athletes that are selected are not existing rowers, so the tests are simply to identify the athletic ability of the person, and not their rowing technique.
This is because the program is designed to take an athlete and develop them into a top rower, and not to change an existing rower’s skill or enhance their technique. This way the selected candidate is sheltered from the traditional upbringing of a rower, they are individually coached and hardly ever develop bad technique. At this stage it is not known if Row to Podium is or will be a success, and only the future will tell us if this radical new way of developing rowers will be the best.
Rowing places many demands on the individual and the real question is if determining the talent will prove more difficult than actually identifying it?
But in the future perhaps the more scientific approach to identifying potential talent will just give way to the certain feeling that talent spotters have always used. And that comes down to pure experience and a gut feeling of the individual.