Multidimensional and Longitudinal Approaches in Talent Identification and Development in Racket Sports: A Systematic Review

Sebastiaan B. Nijenhuis, Till Koopmann, Jesper Mulder, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Irene R. Faber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Background: Better methods to support talent identification and development processes may contribute to more effective and efficient athlete development programs in racket sports. Both researchers and practitioners recommend multidimensional and longitudinal approaches to better understand the nature of talent (development). However, the added value of these ‘innovative’ approaches has not yet been clarified for racket sports. This systematic review intends to gain further insight into the outcomes of multidimensional and longitudinal approaches for talent identification and development in racket sports and to provide directions for future talent research.

Methods: Electronic searches were conducted in PubMed, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science (January 2000–August 2022). Search terms covered the areas of racket sports and talent in sports. Studies using multidimensional and/or longitudinal talent approaches were included and analyzed regarding the methodology, included performance characteristics (i.e., anthropometrical, physiological, technical, tactical, psychological), and study findings.

Results: A total of thirty-two studies were included using multidimensional (n = 15), unidimensional longitudinal (n = 3) or multidimensional longitudinal designs (n = 14). Most research covered physiological characteristics (n = 28), while fewer articles investigated anthropometrics (n = 21) and technical characteristics (n = 16). Only limited research investigated psychological (n = 4) and tactical characteristics (n = 1). Almost all studies measured physiological characteristics in combination with other characteristics. There was moderate to strong evidence that physiological and technical characteristics have value for athlete development programs in racket sports. Positive but limited evidence was found for psychological and tactical characteristics. Anthropometrical assessments were generally used as controlling variables for maturation. Study designs varied, and many studies used unidimensional statistical models and analyses within multidimensional study designs and datasets.

Conclusions: This review provides an overview of talent research using multidimensional and/or longitudinal approaches within racket sports and gives guidance on what characteristics to include in decision-making and monitoring processes. However, it remains difficult to draw conclusions about the added values of these approaches due to their variety in methodology. Future talent research should include more consistent study designs and conduct multidimensional and longitudinal studies using multivariate statistical approaches that benefit from the data’s multidimensionality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2024


  • Aptitude
  • Racquet sports
  • Sports performance
  • Talent
  • Youth sports


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