Turning potential into performance: survey open now

England Hockey's Futures Cup
England Hockey recently launched a Talent Survey inviting the hockey community across England to take part. We are excited to gain feedback and hear your views and ideas about how the talent and performance side of the game can evolve. The survey opened on 11 May and runs until 28 May.

Why open a survey now?
Periodic review and reflection is a feature of most high-perfoming businesses and teams. In an Olympic sport like hockey, the end of each Olympiad is a natural point for their performance and talent teams to reflect, learn and plan for the future. As we look towards Tokyo, Paris and beyond we know we need to work differently and in greater partnership with the hockey community. We are keen to create shared ambitions, to set new goals and to work together to seek ever-higher standards.

The Talent Survey is an opportunity to tap into knowledge, expertise and best practice from across the hockey community. Please take this opportunity to share your views, shape the future and influence how we can more effectively attract, develop and support young players to achieve their potential.

As we look forward, we aspire for a vibrant talent development setup that we’re all proud of, where potential is transformed into performance and clubs and teams excel on the domestic and international stage.

What is talent?
A starting point is defining what we mean by ‘talent’ and gaining a shared understanding of what a talent development programme could look like and could aim to achieve.

One important factor is the dynamic nature of talent. When an athlete enters a talent pathway, he or she may well have natural gifts or ability. The task of the many key people along the pathway – coaches, teachers, parents, team mates – is to transform those abilities into talent.

Sports psychologist Robert Sternberg refers to this as 'The path from rank-novice to the most outstanding and distinguished accomplishments.'

Another psychologist Dr Ross Tucker claims that 'no-one is born a champion but there is a place for genetics.' Dr Tucker says that when we identify talent, we are looking at a combination of the right starting material – the biomechanics and physiological make-up of the athlete – and combining that with two other factors: a strong motivation and ability to train well; and a resistance to injury.

Even that is not enough to make a champion however. The other factor, says Dr Tucker, – and the one that concerns us here – is putting that athlete into a high-quality training environment.

What constitutes an effective talent system?
Putting that theory into practice, a high quality talent development environment is a nurturing ground with a strong focus on learning and helping each athlete achieve their highest possible level. Intrinsic to this is the assurance that athletes are exposed to the right stretch at the appropriate stage. The system needs to be as simple as possible, not just for the athlete but for his or her family and support network, and with as few competing demands on the athlete as possible.

Without doubt there is a need for high quality and knowledgeable coaching and support staff; people who understand the needs of ambitious young hockey players as athletes and as people.  The focus needs to be on both physical development; that is skills development, physical conditioning, and psychological development; factors such as mental skills, lifestyle and support in dealing with the stresses of success and the bumps in the road along the way.

These are just some of the many areas that England Hockey would like to explore as part of the 2020 review. The starting point in this inclusive process lies with the Talent Survey. We recognise and appreciate the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists within the wider hockey community and, in a bid to turn potential into performance, we see a close collaboration with our hockey community as an exciting and ambitious move forwards.

Let’s work together to create world leading opportunities and development experiences for the next generation of talent players:

Click here to take part.