I was reading a post by Alexis Lebedew, There’s More to Talent, and it reminded me of a previous conversation I had with him. Essentially the idea that people exactly meet their potential as otherwise they would have achieved more was the topic.
While a junior athlete still has the potential to achieve anything, by the end of their career this potential diminishes to what they have already achieved. In essence someone will meet their potential. The heights of their achievement however may be limited by their motivation, physical attributes, uncontrollable factors or any of an innumerate list of things that can hold someone back from ultimate success.
This poses an issue when it comes to talent identification however. If you dont know all of the extrinsic factors that are going to influence them, you cant accurately identify talent. Every coach knows that the biggest or best or strongest or most gifted wont necessarily be the one at the end of the day that wins, there are always other things that come into play. Coaches however have to weigh up the liklihood of someone being successful, and this is when the typical notion of potential come from. While someone may eventually meet their true potential, coaches explore athletes hypothetical potential looking at physiology, physchology and circumstance.
You never really know who will be the best, but you can make an educated guess at who is most likely.