Talent Development, Existential Philosophy and Sport : On Becoming an Elite Athlete book cover
1st Edition

Talent Development, Existential Philosophy and Sport
On Becoming an Elite Athlete

ISBN 9781138208346
Published August 3, 2016 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

 'Why don’t young athletes in sport just quit?’ Starting with this question and drawing on existential philosophy, phenomenology and hermeneutics, Talent Development, Existential Philosophy and Sport seeks a deeper understanding of the experience of being a talented young sportsperson striving to become an elite athlete.

As an alternative to conventional approaches to talent development governed by a worldview of instrumental rationality, the book introduces key ideas from educational philosophy to describe talent development through the concept of elite-Bildung. It pursues an existential understanding of developing in sport as a process of freedom, self-transcendence, striving for excellence and building up habits.

The book highlights a range of ambiguous and intriguing existential phenomena – most prominently wonder, question, expression, humour and repetition – and reveals an existential layer of meaning within talent development in sport, which can facilitate the process of becoming an elite athlete and give young athletes a number of reasons not to quit. 

By deepening our understanding of performance and development in sport, and the process of becoming an elite player, this book is important reading for any serious student or researcher working in the philosophy of sport, sports coaching, sports development, sport psychology or applied sport science.

Table of Contents

Introduction  Part I: Navigating in the Landscape  1. The Phenomenal Field of Talent Development  2. To be, or to have a talent: that is the question  3. Talent Development as Elite-Bildung  Part II: Moving in the Landscape  4. Wonder - Where It All Begins  5. Question - The Piety of Development  6. Expression - Enacting the Drama of Sport  7. Humour -The Mature Eye for the Comic of Sport  8. Repetition - Stepping into the Virtuous Circle of Development

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Kenneth Aggerholm is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. He has a Ph.D. in sport philosophy and is a former professional football player. He enjoys a broad research interest, ranging from gender studies over talent development in elite sport to (re)habilitation and adapted physical activity. Kenneth is a member at large of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport and has published in Sport Ethics and Philosophy, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, the Routledge Handbook of Sports Coaching and the Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport.


"Taking the practice of sports as intrinsically valuable to the athletes’ life takes the talent development debate far beyond mere technical issues. This is what, for me, turns Aggerholm’s book into an extremely valuable contribution to the philosophy of sports in general and to the talent development in sports debate in particular, as well as into a novel and revolutionary work in comparison to talent development in the wider sports literature. Aggerholm takes an unexplored and difficult path that goes beyond the ordinary and commonly taken paths to understanding talent development in sports issues, that is to say, Talent Development, Existential Philosophy and Sport presents a more challenging and exciting perspective than the dominant instrumental and rationalistic way of experiencing and understanding sports."

Francisco Lopez Frias (2015) Sport, Ethics and Philosophy: The Official Journal of the British Philosophy of Sport Association

"[Aggerholm] demonstrates an advanced and skilled grasp of difficult and subtle philosophical problems. The language of Aggerholm’s book is excellent, the preciseness and the way of expressing difficult points are quite impressive. And I particularly appreciate how Aggerholm manages to let the individualistic aspects of existentialism be expanded to encompass the inter-subjective, and even collective and institutional aspects of human existence…Aggerholm’s new book is an interesting and excellent piece of sport philosophical work."

"Well-conceived and important contribution to Nordic philosophy of sport"

Gunnar Breivik (2015) idrottsforum.org