The Olympic Performance Pathway
The purpose of the Performance Pathway is to identify, nurture and prepare athletes to realise their potential as Performance Archers.
The goal for a Performance Archer is to sustain world class performance over five to seven days of international competition. This requires physical athleticism, mental resilience, equipment optimisation, team-work and lifestyle stability developed over years of dedicated practice.
How athletes prioritise and focus their training will change as their journey progresses, in line with their developing needs. No two journeys through the Pathway will be the same and athletes are supported to map out their own route according to their individual requirements.
There are different Performance Pathway programmes to assist athletes along the way. The range and depth of support available typically increases as athletes move along the Performance Pathway, as does the commitment required.
An effective Performance Pathway requires an intelligent approach to talent development, ensuring that the athletes receive the right support at the right time.
We know that environments and experiences for athletes at the first stages of a Performance Pathway are crucially important. These create strong foundations for a Performance Pathway journey including fostering enjoyment and a love for the sport.
Through consultation and partnership with key stakeholders, our vision for Performance Clubs will:
- Provide an optimal balance of technical, physical, mental and holistic support appropriate to each athlete’s stage of development.
- Be located across the country so they are accessible to all athletes who are interested in performance.
- Benefit from investment in long-term coach development to ensure coaches are engaged, performance-focused, connected and well-supported.
- Connect athletes across the country in a shared performance identity which is recognisable and aspirational, including a junior specific programme as appropriate.
- Provide clear identification and progression opportunities for athletes as appropriate.
National Talent Development Programme
The National Talent Development Programme (NTDP) is an open, inclusive programme. All young recurve and compound athletes who are keen to improve, including those with disabilities, are actively encouraged to sign up. The NTDP is open for any athlete under the age of 20.
The NTDP has been the key connect between the grassroots talent activity of our sport, including ontarget Performance Clubs and our Performance Pathway academy programmes. It also offers CPD opportunity for club coaches who are encouraged to attend NTDP with their athlete to ensure aligned practice.
Athletes attend bimonthly coaching and development days throughout the year with a final “profiling” day at the end of the cycle. Those demonstrating the skills and behaviours required to progress can be selected to the National Age Group Academy or NI Performance Academy, the induction for which takes place each autumn.
There are three England NTDP bases and one in Northern Ireland:
- Lilleshall National Sports Centre (Newport)
- Aim4Sport (Bedford)
- Arrowhawks (York)
- Lisnagarvey High School (Lisburn)
National Age Group Academy and Northern Ireland Performance Academy
The National Age Group (NAG) and NI Performance Academies are key steps for young talented archers on to the England and Northern Ireland Talent Pathways respectively. Both academies are open to athletes eligible for youth age group competition (up to the age of 20).
Athletes attend weekend camps between September and May and work with their dedicated Pathway coach year-round. The purpose of this Academy is to promote the technical, physical, mental and personal development of promising archers to support them to become internationally competitive youth athletes.
Athletes are selected to the National Age Group Academy and NI Performance Academy through two main routes:
1) From our National Talent Development Programme outlined above;
2) Directly from the Competition Pathway where young talented athletes may have posted strong scores in relation to selection standards.
Each athlete’s journey is different and so they may spend different amounts of time on NTDP or the National Age Group/NI academies. Those athletes who do not demonstrate a trajectory predictive of what it takes to win are responsibly managed into the National Talent Development Programme and ontarget Performance Clubs network as well as the Workforce and Competition Pathway.
The Conversion Academy sits at the top of the Performance Pathway. The purpose of the Conversion Academy is to convert the most talented young athletes into senior international competitors. Core aspects of athletes’ programmes include 14 hours monthly of quality coaching in addition to individualised Sport Science and Sport Medicine (SSSM) support and training camps.
Athletes are invited to enter the Conversion Academy each August and an induction is delivered each year in the autumn. Athletes may enter from the National Age Group Academy, a Fast-track route or through the open Competition Pathway.
Athletes who do not progress beyond Conversion are either responsibly managed through a transition route such as to the Competition or Workforce Pathways or, in the exceptional circumstance that they are deemed to have been transitioned ‘too quickly’ in error, they may be re-entered into a preliminary programme.
The Competition Pathway is accessible for all archers regardless of ability or age. Athletes are encouraged to submit their scores through an online score tracker and scores are also monitored routinely at key WRS competitions. Selection is a multifaceted process of tracking performance throughout the season, relative to established performance standards (e.g. youth international) as well as our knowledge of the depth of the field at each event. A holistic approach involves follow up conversations to assess capacity, understanding and willingness to do the work.
Significant reforms have been made to our Youth Competition Pathway to ensure it aligns to the international format and provides quality development opportunities for both programme and non-programme athletes.
The Workforce Pathway highlights the importance of all our workforce, including volunteers, coaches, judges, work party at events and our staff. Our Workforce Pathway, including its various courses, allows us to responsibly manage our Talent through effective signposting and journey mapping. The Workforce Pathway particularly provides a route to keep athletes in the sport during transition out of Pathway programmes.
At last count, 70% of our Performance Pathway coaching workforce were former World Class athletes and we have been highly successful in supporting this transfer of skills.