1 Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU2 Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU3 Movement, Sport and Society, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU4 Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU
For many years, it has been the ambition of coaches and administrators of top-level athletes to be able to identify distinct characteristics in young athletes which enable them to become excellent and successful in their sport. However, before these feats of excellence are achieved, a complex process of identification, development and selection takes place. Therefore, it is a much-desired quality in top-level coaches to be able to identify "true" talent. This study explores the ways in which talent identification is carried out among top-level football coaches, and it aims to identify specific structures of expert knowledge related to talent identification. The underlying basis of the study is the assumption that "talent can only be talent and recognized as such where it is values" , and that talent identification in top-level football is a question of the coaches' trained eye  and tacit knowledge . In other words, the coaches' practical sense  of talent apparently plays as central role in talent identification. Methods: The theoretical foundation of the analysis is Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice and the concept of practical sense, i.e. the incorporated feel for the game. From this point of view, the study explores eight Danish National Youth Team football coaches' expert knowledge and ways of identifying talents. The data compile from biographical, in-depth interviews  with the coaches. The in-depth interviews are conducted and analyzed using meaning condensation and meaning categorization. Results: The results are grouped in two themes characterizing core elements of the coaches' practical sense: 1) visual experience and pattern recognition as the basis of the coaches' expertise, and 2) recognition of individual paths and personal styles among the coaches. Furthermore, an agent based model of top-level coaches' classificatory schemes in connection with talent identification is generated. Conclusion: The study supports the theory that talent identification in top-level soccer is strongly connected to the coach's practical sense. The study points at the importance of being aware of the person "behind" the coach, given that his practical sense will be the main identifier of future talents.  Tranckle, P. & Cushion, C.J. (2006). Rethinking Giftedness and Talent in Sport. Quest, 58, 265-282.  Morris, T. (2000). Psychological Characteristics and Talent Identification in Soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 715-726.  Nash, C. & Collins, D. (2006). Tacit Knowledge in Expert Coaching: Science or Art? Quest, 58, 465-477  Bourdieu, P. (1990). The Logic of Practice. Polity Press, and Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action. Polity Press.  Bale, J., Christensen, M.K. and Pfister, G. (2004). Writing Lives in Sport. Biographies, Life-histories and Methods. Aarhus University Press.