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Performance Pathways

For continued success on the world stage, GB World Class Programmes need to be underpinned by highly effective and aligned approaches to recruiting, developing, and transitioning athletes. This allows high-potential athletes to be nurtured and grow on a coherent journey that effectively prepares them for the world of high-performance sport and beyond – we call this the Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathways Team is a collaboration between UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS).  As a central service, our purpose is to work in partnership with sports to drive World Leading performance pathways that ensure sustained success at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Performance Pathway Coaching Position Statement has been created to outline UK Sport and EIS Performance Pathways stance on the nature of pathway coaching and support for the professional development and preparation of coaches who work with high potential athletes.

Why is there a Performance Pathways Team at the EIS?

Building and sustaining highly effective performance pathways in which talented athletes can learn, develop, and thrive is a tremendously exciting, yet challenging task.  To help sports keep an eye on the future (as well as the immediate Olympic Games), the Performance Pathways Team exist to provide thought leadership and support to the key people supporting our most promising athletes.

EIS and UK Sport Head of Performance Pathways John Alder covers the basics of Performance Pathways in the below video.

Our beliefs: Guiding Principles

Our work with sports is driven by the following core beliefs about talent identification and development:

Context Specific – There is no ‘one size-fits all’ development pathway.

Individualised – Developed is complex, often non-linear and unique to the individual athlete.

Holistic – Development is shaped by the interaction between biological, psychological and social factors

Balance – There is a balance between short and long-term goals, which effectively support an individual athlete to reach his/her full senior potential.

Smart Identification – Selection and identification always have a degree of risk, which must be acknowledged and managed.

Leadership – Effective talent development requires strong, empathetic and inspiring leaders (managers, coaches and practitioners) with context specific knowledge, skills and behaviours.

How does the Performance Pathways Team have a performance impact?

Four key strategic drivers influence the success and sustainability of sport performance pathways:

  1. People: The workforce of specialist leaders, coaches (and where appropriate, practitioners)
  2. Athlete Recruitment: The methods and practices for athletes to enter (and re-enter) a sport pathway
  3. Athlete Experiences: The nature of development experiences (training, competition, on and off ‘the field’) into and through the pathway and at key transitions
  4. Continuous Learning: The capacity for sports and the pathway community to evolve and innovate practice through continuous learning

These strategic drivers shape the Performance Pathways Team’s work, and driven by our core beliefs and a blend of evidence and experience-based practice, sports are supported to improve their athlete development practice via a blend of system wide initiatives and in-sport projects.  The team key focus areas are:

Performance Pathway Learning Hub: As part of Pathway’s specialist workforce development, the Performance Pathways team have developed the Learning Hub.  The learning hub is a free online service aimed at sharing up-to date insight, ‘good practice’, learning, and research from our industry and with those working in the British sporting system.  Our aspiration is that the Performance Pathways Learning Hub contributes to improving the collective knowledge and practice of our United Kingdom talent and performance pathway people (coaches, leaders, managers, and practitioners), and subsequently enhance the holistic athlete experience, ensuring they fulfil their potential.  As a site member, users will get access to our quarterly online magazine ‘Talent Matters’, along with other relevant content from our continually growing resource library.  If you work in talent development or a performance pathway in the UK, visit the Performance Pathway Learning Hub to register and get access to our online resources.

The Performance Pathways Team have worked in partnership with 20 Olympic and Paralympic sports, 30 development leaders, and over 100 World Class coaches; run 14 national athlete recruitment campaigns and assessed over 8000 athletes.

These projects have resulted in over 100 newly identified athletes entering the World Class system across 17 sports with over 450 international appearances made and over 150 international medals won. Several of these athletes were selected to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the Nanjing 2014 and Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Visit the UK Sport website to find out more.