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The paper addresses the extraction and empirical testing of the hard core of assumptions underlying the construction principles of the German supportive system in youth elite sport. The support system turns out to be based on a mainly input-oriented concept. Invested sport-related time is regarded as a critical input variable and extensive and intensive time economy is systematically aimed at. Among 1,558 national squad athletes in all Olympic sports those with international and with national success at each junior age and elite age are compared regarding their former juvenile success and volume of training and participation in support programs. Effects of juvenile training- and support-related variables vary over time and in some cases turn into the opposite on the long hand. Juvenile success, the training volume in the individual’s current main sport, and the inclusion in support programs have no significant or negative effects on long-term success in elite sport. In contrast, international elite athletes are characterized by a higher juvenile training volume only in other disciplines beyond the individual’s current main sport and correspondingly by a decelerated juvenile training-, competition-, and support-related development in their main sport. Results are discussed by integrating social-science, training-science, economic, and educational perspectives. Keywords: evaluation – elite sport – sport organisations – training
European Journal for Sport and Society 2006, 3 (2), 85-108
Evaluation of the support of young athletes
in the elite sports system
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
German Olympic Sports Confederation
University of Saarland, Germany
Abstract: The paper addresses the extraction and empirical testing of the hard core of
assumptions underlying the construction principles of the German supportive system in youth
elite sport. The support system turns out to be based on a mainly input-oriented concept.
Invested sport-related time is regarded as a critical input variable and extensive and intensive
time economy is systematically aimed at. Among 1,558 national squad athletes in all Olympic
sports, those with international and with national success at each junior age and elite age are
compared regarding their former juvenile success and volume of training and participation in
support programmes. Effects of juvenile training- and support-related variables vary over time
and in some cases turn into the opposite in the long run. Juvenile success, the training volume
in the individual’s current main sport, and the inclusion in support programmes have no
significant or negative effects on long-term success in elite sport. In contrast, international
elite athletes are characterized by a higher juvenile training volume only in other disciplines
beyond the individual’s current main sport and correspondingly by a decelerated juvenile
training-, competition-, and support-related development in their main sport. Results are
discussed by integrating social science, training science, economic, and educational perspec-
Keywords: evaluation, elite sport, sport organizations, training.
1 Introduction
In the support system for young athletes during childhood and adolescence, an incre-
ment in the probability of modes of behaviour which are according to institutionally
established ideas ascribed positive long-term effects on the future success in elite
sport is meant to be induced by means of target-oriented interventions. The goal of the
athletes’ long-term success in elite sport is therefore served by a systematically
planned process. The success of the athletes is at least to some extent regarded as the
product of an organized and systematically controlled process of support and training.
In the system of German elite sport, the effectiveness of the support system is
currently being discussed. There is an intense debate about the question of which
1 This paper is to a great extent based on the project “The Effectiveness of Supportive Systems”,
which was funded by the Federal Institute of Sport Science (VF 0407/09/2002). The present
article is a summary of excerpts in condensed form. The authors wish to express their thanks to
Dr. Jürgen Schiffer for his support and for his advice on the translation of the manuscript. A
detailed project report has been published (Emrich & Güllich, 2005).
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
means can be applied to achieve the goal of sports success in the most effective way.
German athletes have recently won a great number of medals and high placings in the
finals at international youth and junior championships,
but for 12 years there has been
a more or less continuous decrease in the number of German athletes being successful
at the Summer Olympic Games. This has been interpreted by the media as a critical
situation and as having been caused by structural problems.
In this paper, first of all the hard core of the central assumptions underlying the
construction principles of the supportive system are ascertained using conceptual
studies and a literature review. The evaluation of the support system for young athletes
is based on three empirically based stages of examination relating to
the significance of conditions during childhood and youth at the level of the
individual for long-term success in elite sport,
structural characteristics and constellations in the support system that favour
such conditions at the level of the individual, and
steering models for the efficient creation of such structural target conditions in
the support system in terms of the division of labour in a cooperative system
Here, first of all the results of the first study are described and discussed. The results
and implications for support structures and guiding models have been published
(Emrich & Güllich, 2005).
In the research dealing with the development of top-level performances, the theory
of “deliberate practice” as proposed by Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer (1993) is
often referred to. In the area of music they have demonstrated a quasi-linear corre-
lation between the accumulated time used for practice throughout the career and the
attained level of performance. They claim: “Our framework predicts a monotonic
relation between the current level of performance and the accumulated amount of
deliberate practice for individuals attaining expert performance” (Ericsson, Krampe &
Tesch-Römer, 1993, 387), and also: “the higher the level of attained performance, the
larger the amount of practice” (Ericsson, 2003, 23).
Converging studies from other domains, including high-performance sport, have
been cited. They arrive at the conclusion that the start of a target-oriented, systematic
training at an early age led to a higher accumulated training volume and performance
advantage at every stage in life. They also contend that this lead in performance could
2 Concerning the choice of suitable means, it is sometimes argued that the means applied in the
former GDR elite sport, which were characterized by centralized planning prescriptions and an
extremely cost- and staff-intensive support system, should be transferred to the Federal Republic
of Germany without regard for the political creed or the system of government with which they
were associated. This overlooks the fact that the GDR was a totalitarian, closed society and that
for the Federal Republic of Germany a system of sport support can be useful only if its
institutional regulations correspond with the conditions of an open society.
3 In the period from 1998-2000, German participants in European and World Youth and Junior
Championships achieved 2,358 placings among the first 10. Between 2000 and 2002, the number
of placings was 2,518.
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
never be matched by individuals of the same calendar age who had started training at a
later age:
An individual starting at an earlier age would have accumulated more
deliberate practice and thus have acquired a higher level of perfor-
mance. (...) Individuals with a later starting age for deliberate practice
will experience rapid initial improvements (…). However, because the
rate of improvements with practice decreases and becomes less
perceptible, the difference between the two groups remains distinct
(Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer, 1993, 388, 392; see also fig. 16,
The theory of deliberate practice is frequently referred to also in the research dealing
with high-performance sport, and corresponding results have been often presented
(e.g. Starkes et al., 1996; Hodges & Starkes, 1996; Helsen et al., 1998; Deakin et al.,
1998; Hodge & Deakin, 1998; Howe et al., 1998; Helsen & Starkes, 1999; Richards et
al., 1999; Starkes, 2000; Helsen et al., 2000; Heller, 2002; Hill et al., 2002; Elferink-
Gemser, 2005).
Regarding high-performance sport, the theory has been supplemented and further
refined e.g. by Starkes (2000) and Côté et al. (2003), who deviating from Ericsson et
al. elucidated the central significance of fun, joy, and play for the development of
top-level sports performances.
However, it should be noted that in the data of Ericsson et al. (1993), the older
top-level soloists were associated with lower volumes of practice for the age up to 18
than the best young newcomers (“best students”, Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer,
1993, fig. 9, 379). Depending on the interpretation of the results, this would lead to
considerably diverging implications for the conceptualization and construction of
support systems.
As far as the study of the effectiveness of the support of young athletes is
concerned, the central question arises as to what extent the conceptualized selection
and support conditions for young athletes favour the reaching of the goal of success in
sport and whether the impact and directionality of this effect on success is maintained
for the medium and the long term. Hence, it should be checked to what extent the
conditions of support favour sports success up to junior level, but also to what extent
they correlate positively with long-term success in top-level sport.
In the context of this investigation, the time available for sport in terms of training
time is of particular importance. Being frequently conceptualized as a long-term plan-
ning and steering element, it is regarded as a central input resource (Emrich, 1996;
Güllich, Emrich & Prohl, 2004). At the level of the individual, time becomes a scarce
good because
1. the biologically determined period of time for performing at top level is limited,
2. within the productive phase, each invested unit of time is intended to bring in a
maximum short-, medium-, and/or long-term benefit, and
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
3. it is assumed in the sense of a mechanistic input-output-model that the expan-
sion and intensification of the body-related physical treatment-time” leads to
higher benefit in terms of the athlete’s performances.
Consequently, sport organizations systematically try to expand the available training
time and to use the individual units of time more intensely (extensive and intensive
time economy). The extensification of time becomes obvious in the expansion of the
time available for training and competition. The time demands of other areas external
to sport are intended to be restrained. Training camps as temporarily limited organiza-
tional solutions and elite sport schools as permanent organizational solutions shall
serve as examples. In addition to this, there are the usual efforts of rationalization by
reducing “dead periods of time”, e.g. in the form of sports boarding schools at the
training venue for reducing travel time, or the medical and physiotherapeutic support
for coping with increasing training loads and reduced regeneration times. New training
methods, new technologies, improved performance and training diagnosis and control
– i.e. the examination of to what extent the available time units have been used
efficiently or could have been used more effectively or also hypoxic training at sea
level, are examples of attempts at time intensification in terms of increasing the return
per invested unit of time. Even doing nothing is charged with the function of an
“advance payment” for a better load tolerance in the future (Becker, 1965).
Such developments can also be observed in youth sport. In recent years, the
starting age of young athletes has decreased, while the age-related training volume has
increased (Güllich, Pitsch, Papathanassiou & Emrich, 2000). In table 1 (see next page),
directly or indirectly athlete-related measures in the system of support for young
athletes and the measures’ primary directivity are presented. It is noticeable that,
among the diverse conceivable ways of increasing the long-term probability of
success, through many organizational measures primarily the training time is extensi-
fied or more intensive modes of using available forms of time are enabled.
4 In this context, the dictum ascribed to Karl Marx that all economy (which also includes that of
the body, one should add) is primarily an economy of time becomes comprehensible. In general,
only in the case of perceived scarcity economic behaviour becomes necessary, scarcity basically
being understood in terms of a discrepancy between demand or necessity and existing
possibilities (for scarcity as a problem of economical management see Weber, 1980 [1921]).
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
Table 1. Directionality of directly and/or indirectly athlete-related measures in the supportive
system for young athletes (following Güllich et al., 2004)
Assumed directionality of effects
Measures in the supportive system
Increase of training
volume (extensive
time economy)
Increase of training
(intensive time
pensation of
individual costs/
Organization and promotion of participation in competitions
+ +
Provision of training facilities and equipment + +
Additional base training, training courses, training camps
+ (+)
Provision of coach + (+)
Coach education and further education +
Talent search, screening, squad selection +
Medical, paramedical support
+ + (+)
Biomechanical, training-science performance, training diagnosis
and control
Career counseling/environmental management,
pedagogical support measures
+ +
Day boarding school
+ (+)
Full-time boarding school
+ + (+)
Subsidies for individual costs of travelling, accomodation, living,
equipment, boarding school, etc., flat-rate contributions
+ +
All measures which could lead to an increase in motivation and/or the reduction or compensation of
individual costs/risks (therefore possibly even all privileges not explicitly mentioned here) can mean an
increased probability of longer-term involvement of talents in performance sport and thus attachment to the
system and an extension of the “treatment-time” within the system, i.e. an extensification of time, and also an
intensification of time based on the assumption that the effects of the supportive system will lead to an increase
in the efficiency of training. Furthermore, from all measures associated with the attribution of the young talent
and his or her success to the supportive system an improved basis for the legitimation of the supportive system
can be expected.
An increase in efficiency based only on the assumption of better conditions than in home or club training
including the qualification of the coach, otherwise only time extensification.
Reduction of health-related costs/risks based on the assumption that the increase in load tolerance achieved
with the aid of medical/paramedical intervention surpasses the planned or expected loads or that an improved
load tolerance created by medical/paramedical intervention, is not in conflict with a simultaneously
proportionally increased load, otherwise only time extensification and intensification.
Increase in efficiency based on the assumption that recommendations for steering are prognostically valid
and are factually translated into training practice.
Reduction of costs/risks based on the assumption that reduced dead times are not completely used as
additional training time, otherwise only time extensification.
Attempts at analysis and explanation
During the 1990s, in a series of contributions dealing with the situation of the high-
performance sport of young athletes, analyses were conducted especially in the area of
applied training science (see overview in llich, Pitsch, Papathanassiou & Emrich,
2000). Here, at the level of description of the situation, diagnoses of a worrying state
of affairs were predominant. In particular, with regard to future top-level performances
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
the success or the performances of young athletes were mostly attributed as insuffi-
At the level of attempts at explaining the attributed insufficient success, the
analysis building-up on a quasi-mechanistic interpretation of the theory of deliberate
practice proposed by Ericsson et al. (1993) – was always based on the unproven
assumption that over generations of athletes there was a continuous increase in the
training volume ascribed to be necessary during childhood and adolescence, including
an early starting age for training. So, particular complaints were that there was not
enough time for training and that the organizational framework conditions for higher
training volumes were insufficient. Consequently, a systematic increase in training
time during childhood and youth was demanded. This was designed to be achieved
through the early start of training in a specific sport on the one hand and through
greater age-related amounts of training on the other hand. A proposal was made to
create more adequate framework conditions for this, especially in the form of an
improved cooperation with schools and the early screening and recruitment of
children. Sports-spanning and sport-specific load prescriptions were constructed and
published. These parameters also found their expression in framework training plans
and structural concepts of the federations at regional and national level (cf. Güllich,
Pitsch, Papathanassiou & Emrich, 2000; DSB/Bereich Leistungssport, 2001). Analo-
gous positions regarding contents as identified in the course of an EDP-supported
quantitative and qualitative content analysis (Güllich & Emrich, 2004) can also be
found in the concept for youth elite sport published by the German Sports Confedera-
tion (DSB, 1997).
To sum up, it can be said that the construction of long-term training concepts and
of supportive systems is based on a complex compound of explicit and implicit
assumptions according to which successful athletes start early with their training and
continue a methodical training process in a specific sport over a long period of time
while always being cared for by a supportive system, and further assuming that
performance and success during childhood and youth are valid predictors of long-term
success in elite sport (Pitsch, 2005). This means that positive long-term correlations
are assumed between each: the age of start of training in a specific sport, the age-
related training volume, the age of first recruitment into support programmes, and
finally the age-related amount of support/care during childhood and adolescence on
the one hand and later success at top level in the respective sport on the other hand.
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
Figure 1a. Conceived structure of the squad pyramid yearly transfer of athletes. The areas of
the squad levels and transfer arrows reflect the proportions of the numbers of athletes (relative
to the number of D-squad members) according to data provided by the federations.
Thus, the construction of the concept for youth elite sport turns out to be an input-
oriented concept of support, which is primarily defined on the basis of the invested
time and which assumes linear trajectories of careers exclusively in one sport and a
high continuity of the (sports) careers of the athletes to be supported. The theoretically
conceived and the empirically verified developments of German squad athletes are
illustrated in figures 1a and 1b in terms of the numbers of yearly transitions between
squad levels.
5 In the Federal Republic of Germany athletes are selected for support and assigned to the D-, DC-,
C-, B-, A-squads according to their age and level of performance by the federations. The D-
squads are selected by the regional federations, all higher squads are selected by the national
federations. The D-, DC- and C-squads are for youth talents while the B- and A-squads are for
top athletes above junior age.
Increment of
volume and
intensity of
and of
squad member
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
Figure 1b. Empirical structure of the squad pyramid – yearly transfer of athletes. According to
data by Güllich, Papathanassiou, Pitsch and Emrich, 2001 (longitudinal section over seven
years, seven Olympic sports, four federal states, n=4,754). The areas of the squad levels and
transfer arrows reflect the proportions of the numbers of athletes (relative to the number of D-
2 Approach of the problem
Starting from the described complex of assumptions, hypotheses are formulated and
empirically tested.
The directions of the hypotheses are formulated openly and they
are subjected to a two-sided test. By underlying the target variable “success in top-
level sport”, the following central questions shall be examined according to the logic
of the comparison:
In terms of which features did more successful and less successful top-level
athletes systematically differ from each other during former childhood and
What did they have in common?
In which features did the more successful top-level athletes vary among each
other, and to what extent did they vary?
With regard to the depicted importance of the factor of time as a crucial input variable,
it shall be specifically examined to what extent there is a common variation of success
in top-level sport and the starting age of training in a specific sport, the earliness and
6 The authors feel themselves affiliated with critical rationalism in this.
7 These are equally valid for prospective, follow-up and retrospective designs of studies.
squad member
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
level of juvenile competitive success, the amount of training in a specific sport at
juvenile age stages, the age of recruitment for the supportive system, the extent of
using supportive measures, and the continuity of the training process and of the
support during childhood and youth.
3 Methods
In the German support system, the selected squad athletes are the central group of
addressees (see figure 1). They are selected by the regional and national federations in
order to give them additional special training opportunities and financial support as
well as numerous other privileges given by other institutions. This includes particu-
larly the supportive service at twenty Olympic Training Centres (sports medicine,
physiotherapy, social environmental management, psychology, nutritional advice,
training science/biomechanics).
From two samples of 2,000 and 2,008 A-, B-, C- and DC-squad athletes in
Olympic sports, which were stratified according to squad level, sport and regional
origin (place of residence in West or East Germany), 1,558 questionnaires with
evaluable data sets were returned in the course of the postal survey. The samples are
each representative of the squad level, groups of sports (Emrich & Pitsch, 1998) and
regional origin. In these sample criteria, the samples do not differ significantly and
therefore can be combined for the study presented in this paper. Apart from the socio-
demographic variables, the questionnaire included further variables referring to
success, training (starting age, training frequency, training continuity) and to sup-
port/care (age when entering the support system, amount and continuity of the use of
support measures), each for the ages up to 10 years, 11-14 years, 15-18 years, 19-21
years and over 22 years. In doing so, the main sport and where applicable additionally
other sports were considered.
In table 2, the partial samples of the athletes up to the internationally valid junior
age for each sport (“junior” group) or higher (“top-level”) are described using selected
characteristics. The data show, on the one hand, that among the respondents there are a
lot of athletes who were among the world’s best athletes at junior or top level (among
others 207 medal winners at Olympic Games and World Championships), but that, on
8 Since careers in elite sport normally encompass more than ten years, correspondingly long
periods of time including particularly the juvenile development of the athletes should be
examined. For this, the retrospective reconstruction of the conditions of the career during
childhood and youth would be the suitable method. Using the data from two measurements
conducted at an interval of two years and ten months, the reliability of the retrospective data was
examined. For all age-related cornerstones of the career it was between rtt=0.70 and rtt=0.89, for
the frequency of training in the individual age categories between rtt=0.69 and rtt=0.75; n=123 to
n=230 (for details see Emrich & Güllich, 2005; for the independence of systematic answer
tendencies from the level of success see Starkes, 2000). Success was measured in the form of the
competition level (international, national, regional, lower) and the respective best placing. As far
as training is concerned, only organized training in clubs and federations was taken into account.
Regarding the support/care, the membership or participation in squad programmes of the
federations and Olympic Training Centres were registered.
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
the other hand, there is a considerable scattering of success even in such a selective
sample, which favours the effective study of success-differentiating effects of condi-
Table 2. Description of the partial samples of the junior and top-level athletes by means of
selected characteristics
Juniors Top level
Share 55% 45%
Age (M ± SD) 17.1 ± 1.6 y 24.0 ± 5.0 y
Training volume (M ± SD) 14.8 ± 6.8 h/week 18.9 ± 7.6 h/week
Greatest success:
Place 1-3, international level 21% 42%
Place 4-10, international level 12% 21%
Place 1-3, national level 51% 32%
> Place 3, national level 16% 6%
In the study, the conditions for success at junior and top level were considered from a
short-term and from a long-term point of view. That is why in each case more success-
ful (places among the first ten at European and World Championships and Olympic
Games or Junior European and World Championships) and less successful athletes
within the junior and top-level area were compared regarding the conditions measured
(table 3). Correlation analyses, t-tests and χ
-tests were conducted.
Table 3. Study design
Short-term correlation
(current and previous season)
Long-term correlation
(various years)
Juvenile conditions for success
in junior age
Juvenile conditions for success
in junior age
Conditions during adulthood for
success in top-level sport
Juvenile conditions for success
in top-level sport
4 Empirical results
Juvenile competition success
As far as success is concerned, in subsequent age categories there are significant, but
relatively low correlations in each case (R = 0.24 up to R = 0.34), between success
across broader ranges of age there are hardly any systematic, leave alone relevant
correlations regarding content (cleared variance of success: 0-3 %; table 4). This
means that, among the squad athletes, juvenile success contributes to the explanation
of success differences in elite sports only to a slight extent over relatively short periods
of time, whereas over longer periods of time it does not contribute to the explanation
of later success differences at all.
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
Table 4. Correlations between levels of success in different age categories
11-14 y 15-18 y 19-21 y
22 y
< 11 y R 0.34
n 329 279 112 60
11-14 y R 0.24
n 769 322 154
15-18 y R 0.32
n 510 246
- p>0.05; ** - p<0.01
Juvenile training in the main sport
Numerous athletes are involved in one or more other sport(s) besides their main sport.
In the following, first the juvenile conditions regarding the main sport are taken into
consideration. As illustrated in figure 2, among both the junior and the top-level
athletes, the more successful ones started training and competing in their specific main
sport later, debuted in their first international championships at a higher age, and their
support through an Olympic Training Centre started later, too.
Figure 2. Age-related cornerstones of the training, competition and support career in the
current main sport in success and age groups. Int international success, nat up to national
success. CS – Championship, OTC – Olympic Training Centre.
Group comparisons: * - p<0.05; ** - p<0.01
5 10 15 20 25
Start OTC
Debut int CS
Start competition
Start training
top-level int
top-level nat
juniors int
juniors nat
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
The athletes reported how many training sessions per week they carried out on
average in their main sport in the age categories mentioned above. The top athletes
indicated 1.3 ± 2.2 (M ± SD, n=483) sessions per week for the age category of up to
ten years, 3.4 ± 2.8 (n=485) sessions at 11-14 years and 6.2 ± 3.7 (n=531) sessions for
the age of 15-18 years.
The extent to which there were correlations between the training frequency and
the success in different age categories was examined (table 5). Within one and the
same age category, there is a significant (R=0.18 up to R=0.22) but hardly relevant
correlation between training volume and success during childhood and youth (ex-
plained variance of success: 3-5%). Neither can the success in a successive age
category be explained by the training frequency in previous age categories (cleared
variance of success: 0-2 %) in the present sample.
Table 5. Correlations between training frequency and success
< 11 y 11-14 y 15-18 y 19-21 y
22 y
< 11 y R 0.18
n 300 727 1,004 513 324
11-14 y R 0.22
n 824 1,057 529 327
15-18 y R 0.19
n 1,144 580 349
- p>0.05; ** - p<0.01
66% of the juniors questioned and 65% of the top athletes stated that they had been
injured during the last two years, 83% and 84% respectively reported that they had
been ill during the same period of time (e.g. flu etc.), which in most cases had resulted
in training reductions or interruptions for various weeks. 20% and 24% respectively
had been operated on for injuries. No correlation was elicited between injury and
illness frequency or duration. Hence, only 5% of the squad athletes reported that they
had not reduced or interrupted their training owing to illness or injury during the last
two years. Furthermore, 12% of the junior and 27% of the top-level athletes reported
that they have once or several times interrupted their training process for several
months because of other reasons. However, neither among the junior athletes nor
among the top athletes are there any systematic differences between the success groups
as regards the frequency or duration of the discontinuities in the training process
(p>0.05 in all cases).
Support during childhood and youth
During childhood and youth, there are short-term correlations between support, train-
ing volume and success to the extent that the athletes within the individual age
categories (up to 10, 11-14, 15-18 years) who were supported as members of a squad
and/or an Olympic Training Centre trained more and were more successful than the
athletes of the same age categories who were not supported in a squad and/or an
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
Olympic Training Centre (p<0.01 in each case; see Emrich & Güllich, 2005, for de-
tails). However, in line with the higher age when entering the training and competition
system in their current main sport, fewer members of the group of the international
finalists in top-level sport report that they have ever been members of the lowest squad
level, “D” (46% as compared with 57%; p<0.05), and more of these athletes than of
the less successful top athletes (26% and 15%; p<0.05) have “side-entered” the squad
system at a higher age, which means that the first squad level they were recruited for
was a national squad (from C-squad upwards). Such a difference does not exist with
the junior athletes (p>0.05). 7% of the junior athletes and 14% of the top athletes
report interruptions of a duration of various months during their squad career once or
several times. A long-term, systematic success-differentiating effect cannot be verified
for these discontinuities, though (p>0.05 in each case).
Among both the top and the junior athletes, the more successful athletes became
members of the Olympic Training Centres only at a later age (p<0.01 in each case; see
figure 2). As far as the age-related extent of the use of the service is concerned, there
are no significant differences between the success-related groups (p>0.05 in all cases).
Involvement in other sports
Many squad members report that before or parallel with their main sport they have
trained for several years in other sports in a sports club. They have played 2.2 ± 1.4
(juniors, M ± SD, n=584) and 2.4 ± 1.6 different sports (top-level athletes, n=452)
respectively on a permanent basis. Altogether, 64% of the international finalists and
53% of the less successful top-level athletes have been involved in other sports
(p<0.01). In some cases, the athletes started their sports career in a different sport and
took up their current main sport at an older age, while in other cases the current main
sport was the initial sport and one or more other sports were later played in parallel.
Both variants are overrepresented with the internationally successful as compared to
the less successful athletes (figure 3).
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
Figure 3. Sport exclusivity and continuity – distribution of groups in terms of initial sport and
involvement in different sports. Int – international success, nat up to national success, MS
main sport, OS – other sport(s). Group comparisons: ** - p<0.01
As far as the number of all played sports is concerned, there are no systematic
differences between the success groups in the case of the top-level athletes (p>0.05).
No success-related effects of playing different sports at all can be found among the
junior athletes.
On closer scrutiny, the involvement in other sports reveals itself as a long-term
(6.8 ± 4.8 years) regular training, in connection with taking part in competitions, and
in the case of every seventh top athlete with a squad nomination. The internationally
successful top athletes (as well as the juniors) have maintained training in the other
sport(s) until a higher age as compared with the less successful athletes (juniors 11.2 ±
3.9 vs. 10.6 ± 3.5 years; top-level athletes 13.3 ± 5.6 vs. 11.8 ± 5.1 years; M ± SD; in
each case p<0.05). This means that these athletes fully concentrated on training ex-
clusively in their main sport only considerably later.
35% 35%
Juniors nat Juniors int Top-level nat Top-level int
Share of subjects
Start OS, later MS
Start MS, later also OS
Start MS+OS simltaneously
Start MS, no OS
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
Figure 4. Share of training frequency in other sports (OS) than the current main sport in the
total training frequency during childhood and youth. Int international success, nat up to
national success. Group comparisons: * - p<0.05; ** - p<0.01
In the course of childhood and youth, altogether fewer athletes (p<0.05) are involved
in other sports at an increasing volume (p<0.05), with the more successful top athletes
also being overrepresented in each individual age category (p<0.05). In terms of the
total training frequency (main sport plus other sports), the success groups of the top
athletes do not systematically differ during childhood and youth (p>0.05). However,
the successful top athletes have carried out a significantly higher share of their total
training in other sports than in their current main sport (figure 4). So, among the
internationally successful squad members at the age of 10 years on average almost
every second and at 11 to 14 years more than every third training session was carried
out in a sport different from the current main sport. Also here, there are no systematic
differences between the success groups of the juniors (p>0.05 in all age categories).
The involvement in other sports leads to a deceleration of the training, competition and
support career in the main sport (table 6), as was shown above for the more successful
groups (see figure 2).
up to 10 y 11-14 y 15-18 y
OS's share in total training frequency
Juniors nat
Juniors int
Top-level nat
Top-level int
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
Table 6. Age-related “cornerstones” of the career in the main sport depending on the involve-
ment in other sports. Mean values (years) of internationally successful elite athletes
Start of ...
Tr MS C MS Int CS Squad OTC
in MS
Start MS, no OS - 9.7 11.4 16.8 16.5 18.2 9.7
Start MS, later OS, too 14.5 9.4 12.3 18.0 18.0 20.3 9.4 & 19.3
Start OS, later MS, too 7.6 13.2 14.5 18.3 17.4 19.1 14.3
MS main sport, OS other sport(s), Tr training, C competitions, Int CS international
championships, OTC – Olympic Training Centre. All group differences p<0.05
5 Discussion: theoretically and empirically relevant implications
Among squad members, juvenile success and training frequency in the main sport
exhibit hardly any or no explanational power at all regarding the success probability in
later top-level sport. Neither do relatively frequent discontinuities have a system-
atically success-reducing effect. On the other hand, more successful top athletes differ
from less successful ones by virtue of a higher share of athletes with continuous,
regular training and competition involvement, a higher absolute as well as relative
training volume in other sports beyond the individual’s current main sport, and a later
concentration exclusively on their main sport. In other words, the majority of
successful careers is characterized by a greater sports-spanning variability associated
with a deceleration of the development in the main sport.
The credit for having compiled common features of different domains in the
development of top performances and for having developed a conceptual framework
which in the course of the past decade has provided the stimulus and the basis for
numerous studies in high-performance sport, too, can be attributed to Ericsson and his
Our results confirm that most top athletes took up their athletic career during
childhood and that their training volume increased with age. However, the findings
concerning the long-term relevance of success, training and support features during
9 The results cannot be attributed to sport-specific differences in the success distribution in top-
level sport. In this regard the analytic categories of cgs, game, combat, compository and other
sports do not differ systematically (p>0.05). International research in more than 360 empirical
studies dealing with the high-performance sport of young athletes from both western and eastern
sports systems lead to a large number of converging results, which are presented by Emrich and
Güllich (2005). The analysis currently conducted with regard to specific sports has shown that
the presented majority results are not found in identical form in some sports with particularly
early start of training, e.g. in compository sports, swimming, tennis, table tennis. To what extent
this is caused by the early high-performance age and/or other aspects of the performance and/or
programme structure in these sports remains to future study. No contradictory results were
elicited in any particular sport, though. These results – as well as those concerning the question to
what extent there are empirical affinities between certain sports – will soon be presented in detail,
together with the longitudinal testing of the findings (Güllich, 2007).
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
childhood and youth for later success in top-level sport cannot so easily be brought
into line with the theoretical concept of deliberate practice, which is in the main
characterized by time-economy. Rather, an interpretation that integrates social-science,
training-science, economic and educational perspectives leads to an essential extension
and refinement of the theoretical concept at least as far as high-performance sport is
From a short- and long-term perspective, the conditions for sports success are not
only different, but partially even contrary as far as their contents are concerned. This
means that conditions in the training, competition and support system, which favour
short-term success during childhood and youth, can have opposite effects on the
chances for long-term success. This is, eventually, a late empirical confirmation also in
the domain of high-performance sport for Merton’s statement (1968) that target-
oriented social actions can principally have intended and non-intended, functional and
dysfunctional consequences and that their functionality can change over time and can
even turn into the opposite.
From an economic perspective, the findings mean that an at first sight apparently
rational time-economy during childhood and youth turns out to be only sub-optimal in
the long term and that the initially seemingly “wasteful” dealing with the input re-
source of time, which is actually perceived as a scarce good i.e. in the core the only
apparently paradoxical pattern of “losing time in order to gain time” (Rousseau, 1987
[1762]) proves to be the economically more efficient way in the long run because of
the greater benefit in terms of competitive success.
As far as the total amount of investments (training, support) is concerned, more
and less successful careers are comparable in each case. However, as far as the
intelligent investment of capital is concerned, the more successful careers are charac-
terized by a longer time for product development (later first success), higher total
initial investments associated with higher individual contribution of the athlete in the
investments (later inclusion in the supportive system), with the individual risk capital
being distributed more variably in terms of risk buffering (sampling various sports),
and the intensity in the main sport being reduced over long periods of time (delayed
training-related development) in conclusion, a judicious management of resources.
The varied spreading of investments together with a permanent delay of reward, which
in economics is described as the speculator’s (today considered as a negative term)
“passion for combination” in order to find efficient solutions (Pareto, 1965 [1917-
1919], §2313) and which, by way of analogy, is also the basic principle of evolution,
where nature initially produces a great variety of species so that one of these can
succeed, in the long run turns out to be the efficient pattern in high-performance sport,
10 Thus, regarding the methodology in the research dealing with highly gifted persons and in
expertise research it is clear that studies which limit themselves to periods within childhood and
youth age can remain insufficient in terms of their explaining power. The extrapolation of their
results to longer terms can even evoke false conclusions.
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
Athletes turn out to be by no means trivial machines who can be sufficiently
described using a simple input-output relation. Rather, the sports career turns out to be
an extremely individual project, the result of which cannot be completely planned. The
assumption of a “producible” linearity of the training and support career from the D-
via the C- and B- to the A-squad in a certain sport, which forms the basis of the
construction principles of long-term training and supportive systems, is not only non-
existent in many cases, but in most cases even proves to be less successful in the long
term, which makes it hardly approachable for a bureaucratically determined organiza-
tional steering process. Thus, performance in top-level sport may be compared with
artistic and scientific performances rather than with those of the automatized industrial
production of goods.
Extensive early support is associated with short-term success. However, in a long-
term perspective in connection with the relatively decelerated development of train-
ing and success in the main sport with the majority of successful top-level athletes it
is negatively correlated with later success. A forced prematuration and acceleration of
a one-sided development leads to higher individual and collective costs and risks, but
not to greater returns in terms of success in the long run. Obviously, this result is in
opposition to the intended effects of an early “all-round care” and is therefore in line
with the realization of anthropological philosophy that an all too careless life will in
the long term inhibit individual initiative and development (Hackfort & Emrich, 2001).
From a sociological perspective, the findings mean that the explicit selection
effects of the supportive system as a social organization and the implicit long-term
selection effects of top-level sport as a social institution are contradictory. In youth
high-performance sport, individual behaviour in correspondence with the system’s
steering ideology are functional in the short term, but dysfunctional in the long term,
whereas individual deviations bring in fewer returns in the short term, but more returns
in the long term for both the individual athlete and eventually the system, too.
Understanding “talent” as a “promise for the future”, the selection criteria within the
supportive system therefore lead to the pattern of self-fulfilling prophecy in the short
term and self-destroying prophecy in the long term. The system code of victory and
defeat, often considered as being fundamental, must therefore be viewed in a more
differentiated way as among the members of the squad system early victories do not
rarely turn out as later defeat (Güllich, Papathanassiou, Pitsch & Emrich, 2001).
By way of summary, it can therefore be said that most internationally successful
top-level athletes during childhood and youth at least partially behave in contradiction
to the hard core of the assumptions of the German concept for youth high-performance
sport. As a central step in the evaluation procedure for assessing the functionality of
structures in the supportive system, the empirical findings are reflected in the basic
complex of observation-based assumptions of the support system (table 7). Over
11 Thus, these findings also cast doubt on traditional long-term training concepts, which are based
on the idea of stages of training demarcated one from the other according to age periods and
training contents which additively and irreversibly build up on one another.
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
relatively short terms particularly during the period of youth –, the assumed effects
prove to some extent right. However, in a long-term perspective, the assumed corre-
lations are in no case empirically confirmed. Rather are the reliable findings concern-
ing numerous training-, success- and support-related characteristics in opposition to
the current conceptual positions as far as their contents is concerned. Thus it is clear,
too, that the pattern of “more and more of the same” i.e. “even earlier, even more”
is unlikely to be a workable steering principle in the long term. However, to what
extent other methods will prove more successful is still uncertain.
Table 7. Conformity of basic observational assumptions for conceptual positions and empiri-
cal findings
Success at
junior level
Success at
top level
Characteristics during childhood and youth
Early success in MS + o o
Exclusivity of sport o o o
Constancy of sport (initial sport) o
Starting age of training in MS o
Starting age of competitions in MS
Starting age of exclusive training in
Age-related training volume in MS + o + o
Age-related training volume in OS + o o
Training and
Training continuity o o o o
Entry squad level o
Starting age of support by OTC
Amount of support by OTC o o
Squad membership
in young age categories
+ o +
OTC membership
in young age categories
+ o +
Continuity of support o o o o
+ = converging finding, o = no significant finding, = contrary finding as far as contents is
concerned, MS = main sport, OS = other sport(s). Short-term: within the season and previous
season. Long-term: various years
Corresponding with the central underlying assumptions of the support system, the
national federations have created quantitative training prescriptions in order to control
collectively the empirical training process. These prescriptions have been published in
framework training plans as central technocratic programmes for training control and
regulation. If one understands the deviations of the prescriptions from the empirical
reality of training as an indicator of the direction and extent of the normatively in-
tended changes for the practice of training, it becomes clear that the intended control
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
defines greater sports-related amounts of training as goals for the complete period of
childhood and adolescence and that the aspired changes are the greatest in the youn-
gest age categories (figure 5).
Figure 5. Deviations of quantitative training prescriptions of the national federations from
empirical retrospective data provided by elite athletes.
SRSA sports-related starting age,
TF – training frequency. ** - p<0.01
If one assumes that the correlation between the sports-related juvenile time economy
and long-term success can be compared to a parabolic function of marginal return
which appears plausible on the basis of the empirical findings (see survey in Emrich &
Güllich, 2005) – the results presented here lead to the conclusion that
12 For each athlete in 34 Olympic sports the difference between the prescription of “his” or “her”
federation and “his” or “her” empirical retrospective data was determined.
13 Parabolic function of marginal return (and not monotonic relation) to the extent that a particularly
high extensive and/or intensive sport-related time economy during childhood and youth can ob-
viously be associated with higher long-term costs, particularly opportunity costs i.e. the
elsewhere missed benefit and risks, e.g. in the form of a levelling-off of an initially steep
increase in performance or the complete abandonment of one’s career, possibly together with
motivational deterioration, physical and/or psychological saturation, injury, sub-optimal choice of
a sport, etc.
TF up to 10
y (n=518)
TF 11-14 y
TF 15-18 y
TF 19-21 y
TF from 21
y onw.
Deviation prescriptions/
athletes' empirical reports
Evaluation of the support of young athletes in the elite sports system
1. internationally successful athletes must have been close to the optimum,
2. most of the young athletes currently recruited for the supportive system are on
the right side of the optimum, and that
3. a further realization of the prescriptions of the federations would lead to an
even further shift of the group of supported young athletes to the right side of
the optimum (figure 6).
Figure 6. Illustration of the function of marginal return of juvenile sports-related time
economy and long-term probability of success in top-level sport. Presentation of principle as
based on the empirical findings.
For the future conceptual development and research it would appear to be worthwhile
for the further advance of the explaining power of the theory if further research were
based on a function of marginal return from the time-economical perspective which
ought to be empirically described in more detail –, if individuality and variability of
the sports involvement were still better defined, operationalized and considered as
success resource themselves, and if not only economic but also social-science, psycho-
logical and educational perspectives were integrated into the interpretation of empiri-
cal findings.
Current juvenile
squad members
Juvenile sport-discipline-related
extensive/intensive time economy
Long-term success in elite sport
Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
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Arne Güllich and Eike Emrich
108 (1 November 2004). (3 September 2003).
Dr. Arne Güllich is Head of the Staff Unit “Fundamental Affairs and Sports Sciences” at the
German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). His research accents are: conditions for
expertise, evaluation of training and support systems.
Prof. Dr. Eike Emrich is a Professor at the University of Saarland, Institute of Sports
Science (SWI) and Centre of Evaluation (CEval). His research accents are: economics and
sociology of sport, evaluation.
... Ainda que alguns estudos (Güllich & Emrich, 2006;Güllich, 2014), relatem que os atletas de elite intensificam seus regimes de treinamento em uma idade mais avançada do que seus colegas de quase elite. No presente estudo em adolescentes foi demonstrado que a especialização parece não ser influenciada pela idade. ...
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... The Real Madrid football club invested one million Euros and integrated their resources to systematically find athletes with the most potential [5]. Athletes' achievements can be traced back to environmental factors, such as training and evaluation methods [6,7]. ...
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In this study, we sought to develop a testing system to scientifically identify tennis talent. This testing system will provide helpful information for players who intend to pursue a professional tennis career. The experimental subjects were 18 college students consisting of 10 tennis players (including 4 soft tennis) and 8 basketball players (all males). The subjects were tested on their vertical jump, 60 m shuttle runs, and shoulder joint mobility to identify tennis talent. To statistically analyze the data, an R package was used to conduct a principal component analysis of the athletic performance indicators of the samples, and the samples were further classified via agglomerative hierarchical clustering. This study found that tennis players required more flexibility than basketball players. Regarding the differences between male and female soft tennis players, the unclassified results showed that there was a significant difference in explosive power. However, there was no significant difference in flexibility between genders. The research methods and results of this study can be used as a reference for others to build a system for identifying athletic performance characteristics in the future, and it is expected that the implementation of this system can provide sports coaches with more information for talent selection and improve the accuracy of their judgments, allowing athletes to play to their strengths.
... Neben dieser höchst problematischen Selektionsfunktion führte das Nichtvorhandensein eines entsprechenden Antipodens zudem dazu, dass der "mündige Athlet" auch von jeglichen Interessenvertretern beliebig funktionalisiert werden konnte -und sei es, eine bildungsbezogene Fassade der Eliteschulen des Sports aufrechtzuerhalten (vgl. Stiller, 2017;Güllich & Emrich, 2006; sche wie verantwortbare Unterscheidung zwischen "mündigen Siegern" und "unmündigen Verlierern" zu treffen. ...
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Objectives: This study evaluated prior sports participation and training frequency during elementary to high school and their association with acute and overuse injuries in Japanese college students currently majoring in physical education.Methods: This retrospective study included 292 students who completed questionnaires that assessed their type of sport participation (single sport or multiple sports), training frequency (number of days per week), and injury history (acute and overuse) during the elementary, junior high, and high school periods.Results: In total, 47.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 38.2–57.7) of elementary school-aged athletes played multiple sports; this decreased to 22.3% (95% CI: 14.1–30.4) in junior high school and 5.5% (95% CI: 1.0–9.9) in high school. There was a significant difference in the training frequency between those who had overuse injuries and not in elementary (p < 0.05), and junior high school (p < 0.05).Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that participating in multiple sports through junior high school may lead to improved sports levels (i.e., participation in higher levels of competition). In addition, appropriate management of training frequency may help reduce the incidence of overuse injuries.
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A tehetségszűrés, -kiválasztás, -gondozás és -fejlesztés összetett és multidimenzionális természetű sportpedagógiai feladat, hiszen a tehetség egy igencsak összetett tulajdonság, amelynek öröklött és kiválóan fejleszthető elemei egyaránt vannak. A tehetségkiválasztó és tehetséggondozó, tehetségfejlesztő folyamatoknak egymás mellett kell működniük annak érdekében, hogy minden gyermek számára biztosítsuk a fejlesztő ingereket, ezáltal hosszú távon elköteleződjenek a sportos életforma, majd esetlegesen egy adott sportág iránt, és ezáltal hozzájárulhassunk a lehető legtöbb potenciálisan tehetséges gyermek képességeinek kibontakoztatásához. A Kormány 2016-ban a T.E.S.I. 2020 stratégia elfogadásával úgy döntött, hogy a NETFIT® rendszer bevezetését és stabilizálását követően indokolt annak alapjairól elindulva – az egészségfejlesztést és az oktatást támogató funkcióját nem megsértve – egy olyan önálló, de nem kötelezően alkalmazandó rendszert is megalkotni, amelynek segítségével folyamatosan nyomon követhetővé válik a gyermekek és serdülők magasabb szintű sportolásához, teljesítményéhez, sportbeli beválásához szükséges képességek fejlődése, támogatva az iskolai tehetséggondozás folyamatát. XFIT. Ezt az elnevezést választottuk a Magyar Diáksport Szövetség tehetségfejlődést és tehetségfejlesztést támogató, készségközpontú motoros tesztrendszerének. Az elnevezésben megjelenő X egyrészt a gyermekekben rejlő, és esetenként fel nem fedezett tehetségre utal, másrészt pedig arra az extra lehetőségre, melyet a tesztrendszer kínál elsősorban az iskolák, a testnevelő tanárok számára, de potenciálisan az iskolákkal együttműködő, őket megszólító sportszervezetek, sportszövetségek sportszakemberei számára is, hogy a gyermekek készségközpontú motoros képességeinek fejlődését objektíven és reálisan, a fejlődés tükrében tudják megítélni. Az EFOP-3.2.10-16-2016-00001 projektben megalkotott készségközpontú fittségmérési rendszer tesztjei nem sportágspecifikusak, hiszen a célunk az, hogy átfogó képet kapjunk – pilot rendszer lévén kiindulásként a kevésbé fejlett régiókban élő – iskolás gyermekek és serdülők készségközpontú fittségének szintjéről, és az egyes fittségi profilokban tapasztalható teljesítmény többszempontú (biológiai és naptáriéletkor-alapú) értékelése, továbbá a fejlődés nyomon követése által segítsük a sportágválasztást, a sporttehetségek felfedezését és kiválasztását. Az XFIT felépítését egy nagymintás, reprezentatív kutatás lefolytatásával alapoztuk meg, amelynek segítségével (szemben a NETFIT® egészségközpontú, kritériumorientált értékelésével) megállapítottuk azokat a normatív, átlagértékeket, amelyekhez viszonyítva könnyedén látható, hogy egy gyermek a korcsoportjához viszonyítva és a biológiai fejlettségét figyelembe véve milyen szinten áll például az állóképességét, gyorsaságát, erejét vagy agilitását illetően. Az XFIT készségközpontú tesztrendszerének segítségével – az antropometriai jellemzők mentén – lehetőségünk van a biológiai fejlődés alapján megítélni a motoros képességek fejlődését, ezzel pedig reálisabban kiértékelni azok valós erősségeit, esetleges lemaradásait. Célunk, hogy minden gyermek számára biztosítsuk a motoros, a pszichés és a viselkedésbeli tényezők fejlesztését, melyek a sportban való fejlődés alapjai. Ezáltal teremthetjük meg minden gyermek számára az alapot sporttehetségének kibontakoztatásához.
The Pediatric Collections: Sports Medicine Playbook will increase pediatric providers’ understanding of the injuries that young athletes may incur – including their history, treatment, and prevention. Each section includes a unique expert introduction and they cover such topics as the benefits of physical activity, injuries, and concerns including concussions. Available for purchase at
This study investigates players who have been selected to a district team in the Swedish Football Association U15 talent programme. Using register data on all selected 15-year-old boy and girl district team players (3943 boys and 4056 girls born between 1986 and 1996) from Sweden’s 24 football districts, we analysed the relationships between club affiliation at age 15, the player population of the district, date of birth, and continuation with football and competitive level as young adults. The results show that a higher percentage of boys than girls continued playing football into young adulthood and that continuation is related to district size. Belonging to an elite club at age 15 reduces the likelihood of girls playing football at age 21, but it has no effect on the likelihood of boys playing football at age 21. In addition, 15-year-old boys and girls from larger districts who played on an elite club at age 15 were more likely to play elite football at age 21. In sum, the study shows that football district size and club affiliation at age 15 affect whether boys and girls continue to play football and whether they play at an elite level as young adults.
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Angesichts der wachsenden Internationalisierung und Kommerzialisierung hat sich in den letzten Jahren ein verschärfter Wettbewerb zwischen den Sportarten (und zwischen den Nationen) um die Präsenz in den Medien herauskristallisiert, bei dem es nicht nur um Prestigegewinn, sondern auch um Fördereinrichtungen und damit um die Inanspruchnahme des Spitzensportlers geht. Der Leistungsdruck zwingt die Athleten, aber auch ihre Betreuer, immer mehr in eine „Erfolgsrationalität“ und „Zeitknappheit“, die sich in ständige Steigerungen der Trainingsumfänge niederschlagen. Ein System „intermediärer Instanzen“ kontrolliert dabei ständig die „Zeittakte“ der Trainings- und Wettkampfplanungen. Verf. macht deutlich, dass solche Entwicklungen bereits im Nachwuchsleistungssport zu beobachten sind. Während das Einstiegsalter in den letzten Jahrzehnten deutlich gesunken ist, hat der altersbezogene Trainingsumfang erheblich zugenommen. Dies zeigt, dass sich das Fördersystem im Nachwuchsleistungssport aufgrund der (biologisch bedingten) Zeitknappheit an eine ökonomische „Handlungslogik“ orientiert, bei der es letztlich um einen maximalen Ertrag geht, nämlich den Erfolg. Im Rahmen einer postalischen Befragung von 787 Kadermitgliedern aus dem Nachwuchsbereich zeigt die Untersuchung auf, dass „Zeit“ hier grundsätzlich als knappes Gut wahrgenommen wird. Das Fördersystem wirkt in der Dialektik zweck- und wertrational, wobei die Einschränkung der individuellen Entscheidungsspielräume bei den jungen Athleten billigend in Kauf genommen wird.
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Sportlicher Erfolg bereits im D-Kader ist Voraussetzung zum Aufstieg und zum Verbleib im Kadersystem. Angesichts teilweise sehr hoher Trainingsumfaenge bereits bei jungen Sportlerinnen und Sportlern wurden Zusammenhaenge zwischen Trainingsumfaengen und sportlichem Erfolg untersucht. In einer Untersuchung an 494 D-Kadern in Saarland und Rheinland-Pfalz waren diese Zusammenhaenge nicht durchgaengig nachweisbar. Damit scheint der Nutzen weiterer Umfangssteigerungen im Nachwuchsbereich zweifelhaft. Eine Diskussion moeglicher qualitativer Verbesserungen des Trainings ist dringend geboten.
The role of practice is considered in view of two models: Ericsson's framework of Deliberate Practice and Scanlan's Sport Commitment Model. As tests of the model of Deliberate Practice several studies are reviewed that examine career progress in accumulated practice, amount of practice per week and relative importance and demand of various practice and everyday activities in: wrestling, figure skating, field hockey and soccer. A series of studies on the ≪microstructure≫ of practice question whether practice activities really are optimized for the athlete to acquire the most/best forms of practice. Finally, the article examines coaches' perception of ≪talent≫ Data are presented that suggest that much of what coaches term early talent may be explained by relative age effects.
This study used participants from the marital arts (karate) to examine the influence of context in the acquisition of novel motor sequences and the applicability of Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer's (1993) theory of deliberate practice in this athletic domain. The presence of context did not benefit recall performance for the experts. The performance of the novice group was hindered by the presence of context. Evaluation of the role of deliberate practice in expert performance was assessed through retrospective questionnaires. The findings related to the relationship between relevance and effort, and relevance and enjoyment diverged from Ericsson et al.'s (1993) definition of deliberate practice, suggesting that adaptations should be made if it is to be considered a general theory of expertise.
Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer (1993) have concluded from work with musicians that expertise is the result of ≪deliberate practice≫, so how valid is this conclusion in sport? Four groups of male amateur wrestlers (n = 42); 2 international and 2 club (current and retired) recalled the number of hours they had spent in wrestling and everyday activities since beginning wrestling. All groups had begun wrestling at a similar age (M = 13 yrs) and had been wrestling for 10 years or more. Data were examined as a function of age and years spent wrestling. Contrary to Ericsson et al. practice alone activities did not differentiate between the groups, only practice with others. At 6 years into their careers, the international group practised 4.5 hrs/week more than the club wrestlers. At 20 years of age the international wrestlers had accumulated over 1000 more hours of practice with others compared to the club wrestlers. Evaluations of wrestling related activities showed that activities judged to be relevant were also rated high with regards to concentration and enjoyment. Diary data were collected from current wrestlers to validate the retrospective reports. The time spent in all wrestling related activities was comparable for the club and international wrestlers, however, the international wrestlers spent longer travelling to practice, which reflected the necessity to train at a club with the best sparring partners. Practice with others yielded high correlations between estimates for a typical week and the diary data for the international wrestlers. In conclusion Ericsson et al.'s definition of ≪deliberate practice≫ needs to be considered, especially as ≪relevancez≫ correlates highly with ≪enjoyment≫. It is recommended that future studies focus on what it is that motivates people to spend the necessary hours of practice to achieve expertise.
Das Ziel des vorliegenden Beitrages besteht darin, theoretische Betrachtungen und empirische Befunde zum besseren Verständnis des Übergangs von der sportlichen in die nachsportliche Karriere von Spitzensportlern, die vorausgehenden Einflußfaktoren und die eine nachsportliche Karriere beeinflussenden Umstände vorzustellen. Dazu wird eine soziologische und psychologische Perspektive kombiniert. Auf der Grundlage einer quantitativen (N=62) und einer qualitativen (N=23) Studie werden Spitzenathleten zunächst mit Stewardessen hinsichtlich des Tätigkeitseinflusses verglichen und anschließend werden für die Spitzensportler sieben Karrieremuster differenziert. Diese Muster werden unter besonderer Berücksichtigung kritischer Person-Umwelt-Aufgabe-Konstellationen und mit Bezug auf riskante und nützliche Konsequenzen sozialer Unterstützung und der Laufbahnberatung diskutiert. Verf.-Referat The objective of the present contribution is to provide theoretical considerations and empirical evidences to improve the understanding of the transition of elite athletes, the antecedents and circumstances influencing post-sport career development. This is realized by the combination of a sociological and psychological perspective. Based on evidences from a quantitative (n=62) and qualitative (n=23) study elite athletes are compared with stewardesses with regard to influences of the professional setting and seven career patterns of the elite athletes have been differentiated. These patterns are discussed with special emphasis on critical person-environment-task constellations and consequences with regard to risks and benefits of social support and career counseling.
Dieser Bericht ueber die nachsportlichen Karrieren einer Gruppe deutscher Spitzensportler, deren Grundlagen fast durchweg in der alten Bundesrepublik der siebziger und achtziger Jahre ausserhalb der Olympiastuetzpunkte gelegt wurden, ist das Teilergebnis eines trinationalen Projekts zur Untersuchung nachspitzensportlicher Karriereverlaeufe zwischen Deutschland, Frankreich und der Schweiz. Der Forschungsbedarf resultiert aus folgendem Sachverhalt: Lei-stungssportler gehen einer Berufung nach, die ihren Neigungen und Talenten entspricht, die jedoch kurzlebig ist und in den meisten Faellen keinen Ersatz fuer die Berufsrolle bietet. Daher sind sie gezwungen, neben ihrer sportlichen Laufbahn die berufliche Entwicklung nicht voellig zu vernachlaessigen. Die hieraus folgende Problematik ist besonders schwerwiegend, da die Entwicklung des Sportsystems generell mit dem Begriff "Totatilisierung" zu beschreiben ist. D.h., immer hoehere Leistungen fuehren zur Notwendigkeit immer umfangreicherer Trainingsmassnahmen. Die schon alleine hieraus entspringende Zeitknappheit wird noch verschaerft durch eine sich stetig erhoehende Wettkampfdichte und damit verbundene Tendenz zur Professionalisierung dergestalt, dass die Athleten versuchen, die Wettkampfteilnahme zur Versorgung zu nutzen. Allerdings steht einer vollstaendigen Professionalisierung die fehlende Kontinuierlichkeit der Erwerbschance entgegen. Einige Fragen, die in diesem Zusammenhang in-teressieren und im Rahmen dieser Untersuchung erforscht werden, sind: 1. Zeigt sich die Totalisierung des Spitzensports mit der damit verbundenen Ausrichtung fast aller Aktivitaeten und Gedanken des Athleten auf das Ziel Leistungssteigerung bzw. Sieg; Erfolg auch darin, dass es schwerfaellt, gedanklich Relevanzstrukturen anderer Lebenswelten vorwegzunehmen? 2. Entwickelt sich im Hochleistungssport oder sportartspezifisch fuer die Akteure eine "deformation professionelle" weniger im Sinne des konkreten Rollenhandelns als vielmehr im Sinne der verfehlten Einschaetzung der Macht- und Statusrealitaet von Positionen verschiedener Sozialsysteme in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland? 3. Sozialisiert der Spitzensport seine Akteure in einem den Berufserfolg foerdernden Sinn, oder hat nur derjenige Erfolg im Lei-stungssport, der schon dem Berufserfolg foerderliche Eigenschaften mitbringt? 4. Wurde dem Athleten im Sportsystem eine angemessene Hilfe bei der Erlangung von Berufspositionen zuteil? 5. Waren es Sportfremde oder Angehoerige des Sportsystems, die den Athleten zufaellig oder systematisch Aufstiegschancen vermittelten? 6. Inwiefern erleichtern oder erschweren individuelle Merkmale des Sportlers dessen spaetere Eingliederung ins Berufslebnen? Das anwendungsbezogene Ziel der Untersuchung ist die Nutzung der aus der Untersuchung resultierenden Erkenntnisse fuer die Diskussion ueber eine effiziente, erfolgreiche und leistungssportadaequate Beratung, Betreuung und Karriereplanung gegenwaertiger und kuenftiger Spitzenathleten.