The Importance of Selection in Sports

The Importance of Selection in Sports

Method of selection represents choice of a person with the most conditions for the development of a supreme athlete. In order to make a good selection it is necessary to find a good teaching and training methods, programming, planning, and education of coaches.

When selecting young athletes it is necessary, in addition to monitoring of existing and analysis of data from the tests, to collect more detailed information about young athletes: their characteristics, interests, preferences, and their motivations.

It should be borne in mind that even the best selection based on tests is not a guarantee of success. It can easily happen that individuals, even though they have good results in tests, do not perform well in sports competitions.

Individual differences of young athletes exist even before selection, before the process of education and training. These differences remain in some cases even later, after the process of education and training, so there are cases that talents disappear, and those who were marked as “medium” level beginners, in adult age achieve the highest results in a given sport. Sometimes athletes from a group of young “talents” are not sufficiently motivated to continue in the chosen sport.

It can also happen that everyone are in the same way motivated to work, but they don’t achieve the same results.


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Why is Selection in Sports so Important?

Selection in sports is a critical process for several reasons, impacting both the success of teams and the development of individual athletes. Here’s why selection is so important:


Building a Competitive Team: Effective selection ensures that the strongest, most suitable athletes are chosen to represent a team. This maximizes the team’s competitive edge and potential for success in matches and tournaments.

Balancing Team Dynamics: Selection is not just about individual talent; it’s also about creating a cohesive unit. A well-selected team will have a balance of skills, roles, and personalities that complement each other, leading to better teamwork and on-field chemistry.

Maximizing Player Development: Proper selection processes can place athletes in environments that are suitable for their current level of skill and potential for growth. This helps in the overall development of athletes, allowing them to train and compete at levels that are challenging yet achievable.

Motivation and Morale: Fair and transparent selection processes can motivate athletes to perform their best. Knowing that selection is based on merit, performance, and suitability encourages athletes to work hard and improve.

Strategic Planning: Selection allows coaches and teams to plan strategically. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their players, coaches can devise game plans and strategies that capitalize on their team’s capabilities.

Resource Optimization: In a practical sense, selection helps in the efficient allocation of limited resources like coaching time, training facilities, and financial investments. By selecting the right athletes, these resources are utilized in the most effective manner.

Long-Term Success and Sustainability: For sports organizations, especially those involved in training young athletes, selection is key to long-term success. It helps in nurturing talent that can sustain and elevate the team or club’s performance over time.

Safety and Well-being: Proper selection also ensures that athletes are competing in categories and levels that are appropriate for their physical and psychological maturity, reducing the risk of injuries and mental stress.

Promoting Excellence and Standards: Selection processes help in setting and maintaining high standards in sports. They encourage a culture of excellence where athletes are driven to improve continuously.

Community and Representation: Especially in professional and national teams, selection decisions can have wider implications for community representation and national pride. Selecting a diverse and representative team can have positive social and cultural impacts.


In summary, selection in sports is crucial for the success and health of both individuals and teams. It shapes the competitive landscape, influences the development paths of athletes, and it can even have broader societal impacts.


The Main Components of Selection in Sports

The process of selecting athletes in sports is multi-faceted, involving various key components. While specific criteria can vary depending on the sport, level of play, and the goals of the team or organization, there are some general components that are commonly considered in the selection process:


Physical Abilities

This includes factors like strength, endurance, speed, agility, and flexibility. For sports like handball, specific physical attributes such as reflexes and hand-eye coordination are also crucial.


Technical Skills

The athlete’s proficiency in the sport-specific skills. For instance, in handball, this would involve passing, shooting, dribbling, and defensive abilities.


Tactical Understanding

The athlete’s understanding of game strategies and their ability to make smart decisions during play. This involves an understanding of different plays, formations, and the ability to adapt to different game situations.


Psychological Attributes

Mental toughness, resilience, focus, and the ability to handle pressure are critical. Also, the willingness to learn, a growth mindset, and the ability to stay motivated are important psychological aspects.


Team Compatibility

How well an athlete fits into the team dynamics. This includes their ability to work with teammates, their communication skills, and their contribution to a positive team environment.


Work Ethic and Discipline

A strong work ethic and a disciplined approach to training and preparation are essential. This also involves consistency in performance and reliability.


Health and Injury History

An athlete’s current health status and injury history can impact their selection, especially in high-impact sports where fitness and injury prevention are crucial.


Potential for Development

Especially in youth sports, the potential for future development can be a key factor. Coaches might select athletes with a high potential to improve and achieve greater success in the future.


Experience and Achievements

Previous experience in the sport, including participation in tournaments, leagues, and other achievements, can play a role in the selection process.


Commitment to the Sport and Team

The athlete’s commitment level, including their willingness to attend practices and games, and their dedication to improving their skills and contributing to the team’s goals.


These components collectively help in making informed decisions during the athlete selection process. It’s important to note that the weight given to each component can vary significantly based on the specific context and objectives of the selection.



The Importance of Selection in Handball Goalkeeping

Goalkeeper is the most important player for the result effectiveness of its team. Handball rules extracted this player as separated, individual player inside of team game, and gave him/her specific technical and tactical actions that are significantly different from the actions of other players in the field.


Some of the essential features of goalkeeper game are as follows:

  • Comparing to all the other players in the field, a goalkeeper is the only one who the most directly affects the outcome of each opponent’s attempt to finish the attack;
  • Opposed to the other field players, goalkeeper acts independently in the limited space – goalkeeper area;
  • Goalkeeper has the most often opportunity to begin the attack of its own team;
  • Along with all stated features, rules allow the goalkeeper to actively participate in the organization and implementation of ending of attack for its team, the same as other players in the field;
  • Because of the special responsibility goalkeeper, more significant than other players, makes a positive or negative emotional state of the entire team;
  • Reliable goalkeeper gives extra security to the whole team, which contributes to an increased level of confidence in the team during the match;

Because of the field size on which they are playing, the other players in a team are more oriented on the spatial mobility and speed endurance.


Because of the limited dimensions of area in which the goalkeeper can move, and because of significantly less time available for motor activity than other field players, goalkeeper is more focused on maximum speed and explosive implementation of simple movements in restricted space and in restricted time conditions.

Goalkeeper is a player with special significance and specific tasks in handball game. Position that goalkeeper has in the game allows maximum exposure of individual quality and motor creativity, but also  imposes a need for functional cooperation with teammates.

Since actions of a goalkeeper are so specific and different compared to other playing positions in handball, it’s very important to make a good choice in the selection process, and to take care about individualization and diversity of work in educational and training process.

High quality training approach is particularly important in working with beginners and young goalkeepers, where we should respect biological and psychological differences among age categories and specific anthropological features of each goalkeeper.


What is Important When Making a Handball Goalkeeper Selection?

Selecting a handball goalkeeper requires a careful evaluation of several important factors, given the crucial and unique role they play on the team. Here’s what to consider when making a selection for a handball goalkeeper:


Inner Desire to Be a Handball Goalkeeper

This would be a thing number 1 in my opinion for the goalkeeper selection in handball – from all the beginners kids that just get introduced to the sport, you want to have as goalkeepers those kids that express a desire to play as goalkeepers.


Physical Attributes

Looking for attributes like height, reach, agility, and reflexes. A taller goalkeeper can cover more of the goal area, while agility and quick reflexes are essential for making quick saves. Very often, in most of clubs, the case is that there is a lack of a proper selection, and usually a random choice is made for the goalkeeper position. So in the end, a goalkeeper ends up being a kid that “doesn’t like to run”, or a “lazy” kid, or similar. Whereas, we should have some of the best athletes in the team on a goalkeeper position!


Not Being Afraid of the Ball

Whereas it’s normal for young goalkeepers to become afraid of the ball after getting a shot in the head, you wouldn’t want to select for a goalkeeper position someone who is inherently insecure and afraid of the ball right away from the very beginning. This is very important thing to consider. Goalkeepers are naturally courageous athletes, which is an important characteristic to keep in mind when working on goalkeeper selection, because we do need in the goal someone courageous who will enjoy the role of goalkeeping despite all “scary” and strong shots aimed towards them.


Tactical Game Understanding

Goalkeepers should have a good understanding of handball tactics and the ability to read the game. This includes anticipating shots, understanding opponents’ strategies, and effectively communicating with defenders. At the very beginning this skill will be lacking from most of young goalkeepers, but we can always pay attention to goalkeepers who are showing early signs of tactical game understanding, and understanding of player’s movements versus own positioning.


Mental Toughness

The psychological aspect is crucial for handball goalkeepers. Goalkeepers must demonstrate a strong focus, composure under pressure, resilience (especially after receiving goals), and the mental fortitude to stay engaged throughout the game or practice, even during periods of inactivity.


Leadership and Communication

A goalkeeper often acts as an on-field leader. They need to effectively communicate with teammates, organize the defense, and motivate or calm players as needed. Now, this might be hard to detect in young goalkeepers at the beginning because many of them can be quiet due to their shyness, but this is something that can be worked on. I have worked with many introverted and shy goalkeepers over the years, and one of our first steps in work was to develop their confidence when it comes to communication with defense. When you have a chance to make an early selection, you should gravitate towards kids who are stronger communicators and who are showing stronger leadership in the team.


Efficient Decision Making

Quick and accurate decision-making is vital for a goalkeeper. This includes deciding when to intercept balls, when to stay on the line, and how to best distribute the ball after a save. There are plenty of ways how you can check this skill in your early work with young athletes.


Consistency and Persistency

Consistency in performance is key. A good goalkeeper should be reliable and maintain a high standard of performance across games and seasons. now, of course this aspect will vary in young age categories, but you will always notice which of your goalkeepers are able to keep consistently good performance, and which ones are persistent in training, in learning and in raising up after potential “mistakes” and failures.


Work Ethic and Training Attitude

Look for goalkeepers who are dedicated to training and improving their skills. A strong work ethic and a willingness to learn and adapt are important attributes. Way to often I was hired by teams and clubs in which the club board would put a lot of effort to organize goalkeeper coaching, training time and space, only to end up having uninterested, and lazy goalkeepers. Often, some of them would tell me also how they “don’t like to practice, but they like to play games”. It’s important instill good working habits from the beginning of work with young goalkeepers, and to teach them that there is no success in handball goalkeeping without dedicated hard (and smart) work.



For the goalkeeper position, you want to consider a player that has a good adaptability. A goalkeeper’s ability to adapt to different styles of play, opponents, and match situations is a very valuable trait.


When selecting a handball goalkeeper, it’s important to balance these factors based on the team’s specific needs and playing style. It’s also essential to consider how goalkeeper’s strengths can complement the overall team dynamics.


To read more about a similar topic, please check out The Role and Importance of a Handball Goalkeeper article on my website.




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7 Responses

  1. I’m a 13 year old goalkeeper and this has really helped not for physical purposes but for mentally I feel like this is what I want to follow now. I’ve got a tournament tomorrow in London and this has motivated me. Thank You

    • You are very welcome, Charlie. I am very glad this was helpful for you. Feel free to join our Goalie Community on Facebook! 🙂
      Best of luck for your tournament tomorrow!

  2. My name is Isabella and I’m a 24 year old handball coach of two schools in Brasília – Brazil ( and I also play handball in University of Brasilia) . I want just say that your work, your website and your link on YouTube are helping me so much on my work! We need more of this! More information, more articles, more people teaching each other the bests techniques and exercises so we all can evaluate the sport on our country! Thank you so much, and if you come to Brazil sometime please send me an email! It will be a pleasure to meet you and maybe make a goalkeeper course! Again, thank you!!

    • You are very welcome, Isabella! Thank you for your kind words! I agree completely with you about that we need more educational materials about handball goalkeeping, so that we could all improve and progress! I would love to come to Brazil and make some of the coaching projects! I believe soon some option for my visit to Brazil will open up! 🙂 Stay well!

  3. I’m Ava. Thank you for this website! I’m 12 and am doing a BTEC PE course about handball and netball. Thank you so much for this website- it is absolutely amazing! If I get a distinction in my course than some credit has to go to you. Thank you☺☺☺☺

    • Thank you SO MUCH, Ava!! 🙂 You just made my day! 🙂 Please let me know how it will all go? 🙂 Have a great day!

    • Hi Ava, thank you so much for your kind words and for your comment! I am really glad that my website was helpful to you! 🙂

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All content (such as text, data, graphics files, images, illustrations, videos, sound files), and all other materials contained in are copyrighted unless otherwise noted and are the property of Vanja Radic Coaching. If you want to cite or use any part of the content from my website, you need to get the permission first, so please contact me for that matter.