|Consideration||How open minded are you about the delivery method?||Do you have insight regarding what type of activity and experiences that young people with sporting potential want to engage with and are most likely to respond to?||How can you create an environment across your pathway where athletes feel they can talk openly about how they’re feeling / challenges they are facing?|
Being open minded considers that a traditional delivery model may not excite or inspire the next generation of pathway athletes.
An open minded delivery method considers the right quantity, quality and variety of experiences in terms of fun, training, and competition opportunities. It is sufficiently flexible to meet individual needs for challenge, support, and enjoyment.
Listening to the voices and lived experience of young people is critical in understanding how best to enhance the sporting pathway, and, in designing appropriate changes and interventions.
Putting the participant at the heart of thinking meets the generational and cultural direction of travel towards a greater focus on personal relationships.
This will inform delivery methods that are attractive, accessible, enjoyable and will support long term athlete development.
Individuals should be able to express their true self without fear of judgement, and to feel that they belong regardless of background.
This may be as simple as creating physical, virtual, and social spaces within the environment that enable athletes to interact with others. develop personal relationships and harness a sense of community feeling.
|Consideration||How flexible is your offering based on different athlete needs and competing demands?||Are your coaches and decision-makers empathetic to the challenges and responsibilities young people have outside of their sport?||Does your performance pathway and programme have multiple entry / exit points to cater for the various routes athletes may take as they progress on their sporting and educational journey?|
Athletes should feel comfortable being open about themselves regardless of the perceived connotations on “commitment” and “training hard”.
If it’s Ramadan, an athlete who is fasting may need to adapt their training schedule. If an athlete wishes to focus on an upcoming exam, they may need to adapt their training demands.
Being open and flexible to accommodating needs and competing demands usually benefits all parties in the longer term.
Having conversations with athletes about their lives outside of sport helps to create understanding and empathy of the challenges and responsibilities they face.
Discussions will also help to highlight whether or not an athlete needs greater support on managing the tasks and responsibilities of their every day life.
All parties recognise and appreciate that sport can have a huge part to play in developing the person, as well as the performer.
‘Good’ looks more like multiple opportunities, multiple eyes, and multiple contexts rather than just one selection opportunity per year based on competition outcomes or performance metrics alone.
The importance of empathetic and responsible onboarding or releasing cannot be understated. Planning the transitions that an athlete is likely to experience (e.g. induction, individual athlete context and personal development plans, exit strategies) should be frequently considered and continually evolved.
|Consideration||Do you actively consider accessibility of opportunities to overcome logistical challenges?||Do you provide up-to-date information to athletes / parents / educators to raise awareness of accessible opportunities?||Do you continually evaluate the impact of inequality of access to pathway entry / progression and the implications for not being able to grow and diversify your talent pool?|
|In Practice||Careful consideration of the geography of training and pathway activity and its impact on the progression of athletes from all parts of Wales – an opportunity to develop a combination of local, regional, and national delivery to meet athlete need, overcome logistical challenges, and remove any avoidable additional travel. ||Provide as much information as possible, as early as possible; everything from training and pathway activity locations and potential transportation options, to up-front details of the financial costs involved and details of sources of support available.|
To create a system that’s inclusive and enables everyone to achieve their potential, you should know who’s in your pathway and who your wider participants are so that you can continually consider and understand the barriers that prevent athletes progressing.
This knowledge will help you to experiment with your delivery and support model to attract participants, develop athletes in your pathway and increase your talent pool.
Absence of Coping Skills
|Consideration||Do your pathways, sessions and coaches look to develop the person and their wider skills, as well as performance?||How could you go about working with more athletes over extended periods to better understand athlete potential?||Is information available to athletes / coaches / parents to support coping with pressurised events and managing potential setbacks?|
Embed a development approach that develops the whole person, supporting their personal development alongside their technical and sporting proficiency.
Be explicit about what skills and characteristics are developed as part of the pathway activity and performance programme. This can be very attractive to participants.
Structure your pathway to support and focus on long-term development of the athletes rather than early success.
Consider making the bottom of the pathway bigger, including open access programmes, placing fewer selection demands on younger athletes , and using more than just traditional performance outcome measures and criteria to make selection decisions.
Collaboration across stakeholder groups to identify individual stress triggers and provide opportunities to build event-specific coping skills.
Supporting stakeholders to set an optimal level of challenge whilst providing choices and not threats to athletes.
|Consideration||What do you think is the external perception of your sport and performance pathway?||How easy is your pathway to understand, especially for those new to your sport’s community?||Is all relevant information relating to your Pathway readily accessible through various and appropriate means for a variety of audiences (e.g., athletes, parents and coaches)?|
Challenge hearsay by sharing clear and up-front details of the financial costs involved to debunk unfounded perceptions of your sport being comparatively cheap or expensive compared to others.
Openly share information on developmental opportunities and longer term career, coaching or volunteering options within your sport.
Create a pathway visual that is easy to understand for all, especially those that have no background knowledge of, or history with your sport.
If there are trials or selection processes, openly share what they entail and what they will practically look like.
Seek ‘champions’ in clubs, schools and other community settings who can help to signpost and increase awareness and understanding.
|Ensuring that all relevant information relating to the pathway, such as the pathway visuals, pathway stages, selection processes etc. is readily accessible and easily digestible through appropriate means (e.g. website, social media, posters / booklets in clubs, schools and other community settings) for a variety of audiences.|