High Performance Sport: What are the “non – negotiables?”

High Performance Sport: What are the “non – negotiables?”

What is High Performance?

I spoke at a conference once and after the formal side of the presentation I invited questions from the 100 or so gathered coaches and sports managers.

The first question from the audience was, “Wayne, you’ve spoken a lot today about HIGH performance. Will you be covering Performance at sea level (i.e. low performance sport)?”.

Many people think that the world of high performance sport is a bit mystical and magical and that it takes a lot of money, a PhD and a laboratory to do it well.

In reality, creating and sustaining a successful high performance culture is more about attitude than altitude, more about motivation than money and more about learning than a laboratory.

So, to help you understand what High Performance is really all about…….

What is High Performance Sport?

My business card reads “High Performance Sports Consultant” – meaning I should know a few things about High Performance sport – the “pointy end” of sport.

Yet, when people ask me, “So what is High Performance Sport”, it is often difficult to define in a few words or with an overly verbose statement for the sake of having a one line definition.

So let’s try it this way…what are the ten core features – the “non negotiables” of high performance sport?

  • Number 1: High performance sport is about change: specifically it’s about accelerating your rate of effective change faster than your opposition;
  • Number 2: High performance sport is about consistency – it’s about being better in your role – everyday -than any of your competitors;
  • Number 3: High performance sport is about taking risks – it’s about daring to be different – about being the first to turn your back on the known to embrace the unknown;
  • Number 4: High performance sport is about never being complacent or resting on your results – it is a commitment to continuous improvement;
  • Number 5: High performance sport is about cohesion – about people working together under pressure and with urgency towards a common goal;
  • Number 6: High performance sport is about innovation and creativity – about seeing things and doing things that no one else will or can;
  • Number 7: High performance sport is about alignment between all areas of the organisation: Board, Executive, Management, Coaches, Athletes, Staff…everyone from the person who signs the cheques to the person who checks the signs – one team, one vision;
  • Number 8: High performance sport is about passion – it’s about drive and enthusiasm and attitude and commitment;
  • Number 9: High performance sport is about science – it’s about integrating leading practice sports science (and sports medicine) into a cohesive, problem solving focused, multi disciplinary, dynamic high performance environment;
  • Number 10: High performance sport is about living excellence – on and off the field – in and out of the gym – in public and in private.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • Maxian Nkompilo Posted November 4, 2009 12:02 am

    High perfomance is about moving towards creating your own space to outdo yourself after beating your competitors.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted November 4, 2009 7:57 am

      Nice way of putting it.

      If you think about all the great people you meet – coaches, teachers, athletes – the one thing they all have in common is…being different. They do things, think things and say things that are unique, different and quite often in opposition to what everyone else is doing. And that’s why they are successful: you can’t win by copying and that applies to copying yourself, i.e. repeating what you did last year.

      Thanks for your comments.


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