Sports Academies

Sports Academies


Every nation that I’ve visited over the past 20 years has tried to put in place a high performance sport system of some kind and most of the time that’s based around 2 things, funding and academies and institutes of sport or high performance centers. It doesn’t really matter what they’re called.

But typically when we say high performance center or sports academy or sports institute, we’re referring to a precinct or a building or an area where the best athletes come together with the best coaches in the best training environment. And it sounds like a no brainer.

It really sounds like that’s the way that we should all do. It’s sounds like a very very logical way to enhance athlete performance, identify the best athletes, bring them together with the best and most experienced coaches in the best possible training environment and success is inevitable.

Yet, if you really look at the figures and statistics around athletes that are being produced in an academy or an institute system in most countries around the world, the success rate is relatively poor.

The question has to be asked, why?

  • Why when it seems to be so logical to put the best athletes with the best coaches in the best environment?
  • Why wouldn’t that seem so logical, why has the success rate of academies and institutes of sport been relatively poor around the world?

The answer is this, Formula One cars do not come off from production line. The essence of greatness is uniqueness. The essence of greatness is being different. The essence of greatness is being an individual.

By recruiting athletes into a single program and enforcing that they follow a very common path and follow the same path, by removing that element of uniqueness and difference, you remove greatness.

This is a very hard concept to sell to sporting nations and sporting associations that I’ve dealt with over the past 20 years. They were all looking for a logical and a simple solution believing that if they put together an academy or an institute of sport, if they build it, they will come. It is the opposite, that is the truth.

To be successful at the top level, to be successful at the high performance level, the olympic gold medal level, grand final level – embrace difference, embrace uniqueness, embrace individualization where coaches and athletes are trying things differently on the outside of the system welcome that opportunity.

Don’t force them into a box. Don’t limit their creative capacity. Give them the opportunity to flourish by being different.

Every great athlete, every great team, every great coach has achieved greatness by doing things differently, thinking differently and acting differently to everyone else in the competition. It makes such good sense.

Being different is what determines greatness. Give coaches and athletes that opportunity. Instead of putting them into a box, give them the freedom to learn, grow and experiment by themselves.

Allow them to dare to be different. Uniqueness wins. different succeeds, individuals are what makes greatness happen.

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