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Chris Chapman
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Talented youngsters High performance athletes Organising and Planning

The Talent and Performance Take on Holistic Development

UK Coaching's Talent and Performance Development Lead Officer Chris Chapman looks at the importance of developing all aspects of an athlete's biological, psychological and social make-up from a talent perspective

Through my work with county sport partnerships and their coaching leads to support their offer for talent coaches, I have come to realise that we all believe in the power of sport to help people grow and develop. But two questions I am repeatedly asked by my peers is how important is person-centred development in the talent domain? and what does it look like? My answer to the first of those questions is I think it is crucial; we need to develop the person as well as the athlete. 

George Engel's biopsychosocial model serves to remind us that it is important to develop all aspects of an athlete's biological, psychological and social make up as they are all inextricably linked. You only have to consider your own daily routine to realise how powerful these connections are. If we wake up and feel good, we have a spring in our step. A positive feeling induces a positive mindset and this influences how we feel physically; let’s not forget the benefits of social interaction on how we think and feel too.

Progress in all these areas not only complements an athlete's performance but is essential to their long term development, providing building blocks, experiences, and tools which can be called upon to navigate the ‘rocky roads’ of talent trajectory. For those who don’t make it to a World Cup or an Olympic Games they'll already have the transferable skills and interpersonal behaviours to use in other walks of life. 

And don’t just take my word for it, listen to Grant Dowie who heads up Manchester City's football academy discuss the importance of developing people, and how this ethos is integrated into the programmes at the academy. The interview was conducted by Senior Sports Science Consultant Chris Barnes as part of Catapult's interview series on high performance practitioners.

Key things to listen out for during the interview:

  • Grant’s view on bio-banding.
  • Grant’s comments on the use of injured players and mood questionnaires.
  • Grant and Manchester City’s view on developing players and enabling them to learn.
  • How Grant and his colleagues have developed ‘City Tough’?
  • How they create learning opportunities within the academy?

Key questions to ask yourself after watching?

  1. What reflections did you make?
  2. Was there anything that made you stop and think?
  3. How can you apply their principles in your coaching practice?
  4. What would you like to find out more about?

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Chris Chapman