DOI: 10.5176/2251-2349_HRM&PD50

Authors: Darryl Forsyth ,Trish Bradbury


Athlete selection is an important process within elite sport. This process can vary from being highly regulated utilizing ‘objective’ criteria, to a more intuitive process utilizing more ‘subjective’ criteria. The present study focused on understanding the perceived role (if any), function, and the underlying process of using ‘intuition’ when making athlete selection decisions. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews from 23 New Zealand national coaches/selectors. Thematic analysis was conducted of this data with the assistance of NVivo software. Although all sport bodies included in this study had ‘objective’ selection criteria for athlete selection, many participants described various ways in which intuitive type decision making was involved in the selection process. However, it needs to be pointed out that participant’s conceptualization of ‘intuitive type decision making’, and more generally, the term ‘intuition’, varied widely. In particular, the results are discussed in relation to the following four areas of interest: 1/ How these coaches/selectors define ‘intuition’; 2/ If/and under what conditions is ‘intuition’ seen as an effective selection method; 3/ What are the effects in relation to face validity of using ‘intuition’ to select athletes; 4/ Finally, to what degree is the use of intuition in athlete selection similar to the way intuition is utilized in workplace selection decisions.

Keywords: Athlete selection, Intuition, Gut feel, Selection criteria

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