Forecasting future performance in youth table tennis players based on current performance is complex due to, among other things, differences between youth players in growth, development, maturity, context and table tennis experience. Talent development programmes might benefit from an assessment of underlying perceptuo-motor skills for table tennis, which is hypothesized to determine the players' potential concerning the perceptuo-motor domain. The Dutch perceptuo-motor skills assessment intends to measure the perceptuomotor potential for table tennis in youth players by assessing the underlying skills crucial for developing technical and tactical qualities. Untrained perceptuo-motor tasks are used as these are suggested to represent a player's future potential better than specific sport skills themselves as the latter depend on exposure to the sport itself. This study evaluated the value of the perceptuo-motor skills assessment for a talent developmental programme by evaluating its predictive validity for competition participation and performance in 48 young table tennis players (7-11 years). Players were tested on their perceptuo-motor skills once during a regional talent day, and the subsequent competition results were recorded halfyearly over a period of 2.5 years. Logistic regression analysis showed that test scores did not predict future competition participation (p > 0.05). Yet, the Generalized Estimating Equations analysis, including the test items 'aiming at target', 'throwing a ball', and 'eye-hand coordination' in the best fitting model, revealed that the outcomes of the perceptuo-motor skills assessment were significant predictors for future competition results (R-2 = 51%). Since the test age influences the perceptuo-motor skills assessment's outcome, another multivariable model was proposed including test age as a covariate (R-2 = 53%). This evaluation demonstrates promising prospects for the perceptuo-motor skills assessment to be included in a talent development programme. Future studies are needed to clarify the predictive value in a larger sample of youth competition players over a longer period in time.
- TALENT DEVELOPMENT
- RACKET SPORTS