What does it take to develop athletes?

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In researching for my new book and several other projects I am working on I keep coming back to what it takes to develop athletes? There is certainly not one formula or one clearly defined model. If anything it is an involved and complex process. What keeps jumping out at me is that it is not facilities and equipment. It is not sport science. It is human resources in terms of the raw material of athletes with some degree of talent/ability and the spark to ignite the fire – coaching. That coaching may not be particularly sophisticated, but it must be effective in terms of building the foundations of basics – basic movements, basic technique and basic conditioning. Once the fire is burning then it is a matter of providing varying degrees of support and direction to keep fanning the flames. To keep fanning the flames of excellence the coach must continue to grow their competencies along with the athlete.

However you look at it, the coach is at the center of athlete development process. It is the coach who has the eye for talent identification; it is the coach who nurtures that talent when no one else sees what he sees. We must remember this and keep the coach at the forefront. In today’s high tech world it is easy to marginalize the coach in favor of sports science and sports medicine. Developing athletes is a high touch process made up of intricate human connections that are best directed by the coach and supported by sport science and sports medicine.

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