Performance Strategy 2023 - 2026
Following the appointment of Chris Type in January 2023 as the new Head of Performance for Welsh Athletics, a full review of the Performance Strategy has taken place.
Aligning with Welsh Athletics strategy, Chris has reviewed, updated and refreshed the Performance Strategy for the next three years.
As part of the scoping process, a full performance needs analysis was completed with the view of creating an understanding of what activity is undertaken and how each area of activity is aligned with the Welsh Athletics strategy.
The needs analysis revealed that focus is needed to develop a pathway for athletes to progress through, that’s strategically aligned to a performance vision which is measured and underpinned by policy and process.
In addition, due to recent changes in the Sport Wales Performance Strategy, resulting in a retraction of performance support services, action is required to ensure Welsh athletes are supported effectively.
Redefining the Welsh Athletics performance vision and aligning performance objectives is key to the further development of an athlete and coach-centred performance system. Following a full needs analysis, the following vision and objectives have been introduced.
To allow for a more focused approach to athlete development, the current programme structure has been streamlined. This creates a clear performance pathway that is measured and underpinned by a robust development curriculum.
There will be three clear progressive levels to the performance pathway.
The National Development Programme (NDP) will act as the entry-level programme for identified talented athletes across all event groups. NDP athletes will experience up to 12 contact days per year where education, performance behaviours and event-specific physical, technical, and tactical development will form the basis of the performance curriculum. Training and competition plans will be agreed upon between athletes and coaches through the Individual Athlete Planning (IAP) process and engagement agreement process with opportunities provided and part funded by the athlete and programme. The entry age of the NDP athlete will be 14 years of age but there will be no defined upper age limit which allows for later maturation athletes to engage in this programme. Only athletes who are deemed talented based on their athlete profile will be invited to engage with the NDP programme.
The Transition Programme will focus on individualising the approach to athletic development with a clear focus on transitioning athletes into senior international athletes. All athletes within this programme will be selected based on their performance history and athletic profile. All competition and training planning will be agreed upon through the IAP and athlete engagement process. The age of the athlete engaged within the programme will be based on an age and stage readiness approach based on performance evidence. Athletes within this programme will be determined to have the potential to perform at International senior level.
The Performance Programme will exclusively include athletes who demonstrate the ability to win medals at The Commonwealth Games or who are progressing to selection levels to be invited to the UKA World Class Programme. This programme will also act as a safety net for athletes falling out of the World Class system where the IAP and clear outcome targets will be agreed upon for continued inclusion within the programme. The programme support package will be completely tailored to the needs of the athlete with all decisions regarding IAP planning to be evidence-based related to the athlete/event profiles.
The Welsh Athletics Performance Programme is shifting to a fully inclusive performance system where Performance Para Programmes and athletes will be integrated within the performance pathway. Each para athlete will be supported through the same IAP, AMS, training and competition structures.
A training and competition programme will be developed across the system that will include an age and stage-appropriate domestic and international programme. The training and competition programme will become integrated into the IAP process and agreed upon across programme staff and athlete/coach pair.
Selection for these programmes will take place in November 2023 and will commence in December 2023/January 2024.
As previously identified, due to the changes in performance support services from Sport Wales, Welsh Athletics must evolve its approach to how performance support services are sourced and delivered. Welsh Athletics will still work with Sport Wales to deliver special projects, but a blended approach between Cardiff Met University and private consultation will deliver the main performance support provision. The engagement with Cardiff Met will vary from PhD combined research and delivery agreements to service level agreements where specific practitioners are identified to deliver at the desired level required at varying levels of the performance system.
An Athlete Management System (AMS) is being designed to accommodate the needs of the performance system. All event-based, athlete profiles will be displayed within the system as easily trackable dashboards that will add a stable base for evidence-based objective decision-making on both a micro and macro level. The administration of the AMS will be kept within the performance team however the transparency of information will include athletes, personal coaches and performance staff in line with GDPR guidance.
The needs analysis revealed the Welsh Athletics performance therapy functions are working well however, all services were limited to the top end of the performance pathway. In addressing this, we have now launched a Sports Injury Clinic which provides the same high-level physiotherapy and soft tissue therapy services to the full performance pathway and to the wider running and athletics community at a reduced cost.
To enable Welsh Athletics to deliver a sustainable performance system, a new staffing structure has been implemented with the view of creating operational efficiency and accountability across the performance system.
We want to thank the Athletics community for your support in providing information that fed into the needs analysis and for your ongoing support to help build a brighter future for athletes in Wales.
Listen to an overview of the changes from Chris Type below.
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