Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2014) 13, 767 - 773

Research article
Motor Learning as Young Gymnast’s Talent Indicator
Alessandra di Cagno1, , Claudia Battaglia1, Giovanni Fiorilli2, Marina Piazza3, Arrigo Giombini2, Federica Fagnani1, Paolo Borrione1, Giuseppe Calcagno2, Fabio Pigozzi1
Author Information
1 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, Italian University of Sport and Movement of Rome “Foro Italico”, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy
3 Department of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Alessandra di Cagno
✉ Department of Movement, Human and Health Science, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, 00198, Italy
Publish Date
Received: 15-01-2014
Accepted: 26-06-2014
Published (online): 01-12-2014
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Talent identification plans are designed to select young athletes with the ability to achieve future success in sports. The aim of the study was to verify the predictive value of coordination and precision in skill acquisition during motor learning, as indicators of talent. One hundred gymnasts, both cadets (aged 11.5 ± 0.5 yr.) and juniors (aged 13.3 ± 0.5 years), competing at the national level, were enrolled in the study. The assessment of motor coordination involved three tests of the validated Hirtz’s battery (1985), and motor skill learning involved four technical tests, specific of rhythmic gymnastics. All the tests were correlated with ranking and performance scores reached by each gymnast in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 National Championships. Coordination tests were significantly correlated to 2013 Championships scores (p < 0.01) and ranking (p < 0.05) of elite cadet athletes. Precision, in skill acquisition test results, was positively and significantly associated with scores in 2013 (adj. R2 = 0.26, p < 0.01). Gymnasts with the best results in coordination and motor learning tests went on to achieve better competition results in three- year time.

Key words: Training, precision, coordination, talent selection, gymnastics, motor skills

           Key Points
  • In talent identification and selection procedures it is better to include the evaluation of coordination and motor learning ability.
  • Motor learning assessment concerns performance improvement and the ability to develop it, rather than evaluating the athlete’s current performance.
  • In this manner talent identification processes should be focused on the future performance capabilities of athletes.
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