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Sports development continuum

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Billy Sheahan

on 10 January 2014

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Transcript of Sports development continuum

The foundation stage of swimming is where people (mostly children) will first get used to a swimming pool and learn basic swimming techniques and strokes and get comfortable in the water. Initially armbands will be needed to aid floatation until they feel confident enough to go without.
The foundation stage of football would be children first having a go at playing it at school, either in a p.e lesson or as an extra curricular activity. Also companies will set up soccer schools where lots of children will turn up having never played before. In this stage players will get to learn the basic rules of the game and focus on controlling and kicking the football, particularly in school. Soccer schools may try more advanced things such as looking at some basic tactics
Children first get introduced to tag rugby at school in p.e lessons and after school clubs, they learn the basic rules of the game before any contact is involved. Often they will have the chance to play in tournaments to improve their understanding and have fun. Contact and the more advanced rules are introduced at secondary school and matches and tournaments are available for children to compete against other schools. Teachers will often encourage children who are good at rugby to join local clubs.
Sports development continuum
The participation stage is where swimmers are confident enough and want to join a swimming club where they will improve their general swimming and learn new strokes and techniques. In swimming clubs they will start to be introduced to competition against other swimmers and if they feel good enough they can start to enter swimming galas to compete against other good swimmers.
The participation stage is where players start to play against other teams competitively at a low standard which could be a Sunday league team where the majority are playing mainly for the enjoyment of the sport rather than to go on to be professionals. Players should know all the rules by this stage and be further improving their ball skills and continuing to look at the tactical side of the game. To progress to the next stage of the development continuum you must be scouted to go to play for an academy or to play well at a trial to get the opportunity of making it as a professional. This is a weakness as it depends on the area you live in to an extent. For example, in Somerset there are not many good standard football clubs that have academies within about 30 miles, however in London there are hundreds of clubs that could scout you and give you the chance. The government have worked with the FA to try to improve the opportunities to every young player as they know the importance of sport in preventing things like anti social behavior and obesity.

The participation stage is playing for a club, training regularly and playing a match against another club most weekends. This will improve the skills as they are playing with other good players and learning from good knowledgeable coaches. By this stage they will be playing all the rules and be aware of all the tactics of professional rugby.
The performance stage of swimming involves swimming for a good standard swimming club where the competitions are at national level competing against the best swimmers of an age group in the country. Swimmers who reach this stage all want to try to be professional swimmers competing at international competitions and Olympic Games. For this reason, the performance stage is all about training and working hard in the gym in order to make it to the top.
The elite stage of swimming is Olympic standard where the very best swimmers are from all around the world. This would be a person’s whole lifestyle as they need to train every day in the pool, be in the gym very regularly and make sure they have the right diet. They have to do everything possible to stay at the top after all the hard work it takes to get there
A strength of both the football and swimming development continuum is there are very good facilities available at most places around the UK that can be used to improve. For example, olympic standard pools and premier league standard football pitches and 3G surfaces. Rugby doesn't quite have the same facilities so available as it doesn't receive the same amount of funding as football or swimming. However, the quality of pitch is not so important for rugby players to improve their game as it is for a footballer. There are a lot of good leisure centers and gyms for rugby players to improve their physical aspects of the game so the opportunity is still there for players to make it to the top.
A weakness of the development continuum in swimming is actually a strength for football and rugby. At performance and elite stages in swimming, the competition is vast and you're either the best or the rest. There's no real divisions or varied levels in swimming once you reach the top unlike in rugby or football they have lots of divisions for different standard teams that are all still professional. For example, in football they have the Premier League down to League 2 and further down beyond that at semi professional.
A weakness of all 3 of these sports development continuum is that they all rely on physical ability as well as talent and technical ability. The issue is once athletes reach the top of the development continuum, they only have a short amount of years at their physical peak and often they can no longer compete when they reach 30 and onwards, sometimes even before if they suffer injuries. As it is such a short career, they often will need to look at another career after they have to retire from competing at the top. A weakness of the development continuum is sometimes there is tunnel vision from coaches and athletes where the sole focus is to reach the top of the sport and often don't think about what they are going to do once they finish competing. Often they will stay working within that sport, particularly with football where they can become pundits or coaches themselves.
The performance stage of football is when the standard increases, the standard of opponents and team mates increase but the facilities and coaching standards also increase. This gives players the best possible chance to make it to the elite level if they keep working hard and training, players will usually train 3-4 times per week at this stage as well as playing competitive fixtures, therefore they need to be very good fit athletes as well as talented footballers.

Progression from the performance stage to the elite stage is being called up to play for your country, this requires you to be playing very well to be noticed by the national manager but also to be playing in a good team being selected every week. For example, England international players are all from the Premier League rather than lower leagues.
The elite stage is the very top of your career where you are playing for your country in big international tournaments such as the Euros or the World Cup against the very best players in the world. This stage is all about taking opportunities when they come, there is so much competition for a place in the national squad, it is likely that a manager will not give you many chances to perform before another player gets their chance.
Players can be scouted from the participation stage and invited to go for trials at a club to see if they are good enough to go on to the performance stage which is club rugby and possibly county level rugby, particularly younger players. Local performance level rugby would be clubs such as Bath RFC and Exeter Chiefs, all of the players are professional and paid to play which is their full time job. This means they have contracts with the clubs and undergo strict training schedules and must have a good diet to keep in the best possible physical condition. A strength of the rugby progression to this stage is that it is gradual, giving the players much more of an opportunity. The best players from school teams get selected for county teams where there are clubs scouting and the best players from there get opportunities at the clubs.
The elite stage of rugby is international standard where the competition is the best in the world, players would undergo even stricter training regimes and diets as a result of advice and training by top standard coaches, fitness instructors and dieticians. Players must keep in optimal physical condition at this level as the competition is very fierce and only the biggest, strongest and fittest will make it to the very top and stay there. A weakness could be that rugby doesn't receive anywhere near the same media coverage as football does therefore much less notice is taken to rugby and it can lead to some naivety and misconceptions of the sport from general people.
This lack of media coverage results in less children participating in rugby which has knock on effects for how much funding the RFU is given to improve the opportunities for young players looking to progress to the elite level. As a result of this, there are not enough performance programmes and schemes in place for young talented rugby players to be noticed or scouted which results in potential not being realised. Rugby is a positive sport for children to get into as it educates them to channel aggression into a sport and to use it in a positive way.
A strength of the swimming development continuum is that opportunities and progression is based solely on swimming performance as it is all about the times. In football and rugby, progression relies on coaches and clubs opinions of a player, there is no biased in swimming as if you can swim quick enough you will be noticed and the opportunities will come. Another way it is ensured that swimming is fair is the amount of anti-drugs and anti-doping procedures in place, it's almost impossible for a top swimmer to be using drugs or enhancements without being found out through drug tests and screening which take place after major events.
The foundation stages for football, rugby and swimming are all similar in the basic aspects as it is mainly about getting used to the sport and all the things that are involved. For example in swimming it is about getting comfortable in the water without support and with football and rugby it is about getting comfortable kicking and throwing the ball and in all sports understanding some general techniques.
The participation stage is where the specific skills start to come in therefore all the sports will be different. In football it is about improving techniques and getting used to playing competitively against other players and teams, it is similar for rugby in terms of playing competitively but it includes learning different techniques and tactics to football. Rugby also involves improving physical ability in the gym more than football where in sessions away from football focus would be on fitness. This is the stage where for both football and both most scouting will be done therefore effort and training is key to try to improve and be noticed by an academy or club. With swimming, the participation stage is about deciding whether you really want to go on to be a good swimmer and also whether you're good enough, swimmers will train a lot in this stage and compete in swimming galas to try record fast times to progress to bigger competitions.
The performance stage of swimming is competing nationally in competitions which can lead to the elite stage if the performance and times are good enough. There will be a lot of training in this stage, with up to 5 days a week training spent in the pool for around 2 hours a session. Similarly with football, they are required to train most days and play competitive fixtures, however the difference is they have a contract with a club and that is their full time job. Swimmers in this stage won't have a contract and they will often have to have a job for income. They may get sponsored or win prize money but often it isn't enough to just swim for a living. Rugby players in this stage will also have contracts with clubs and be their full time job, while not paid as much as footballers they still have similar schedules with training all week and playing competitive matches.
The elite stage of rugby is playing internationally, training schedules are still similar and their actual lifestyles won't change much except they are playing matches at the highest level possible. With football, the elite stage isn't necessarily international because of the much higher interest and competition in football, the elite stage can be playing in the champions league for a top club. They would likely be playing internationally also but a top club is still elite in football, they will often be paid vast sums of money at this stage (anywhere from £30,000 to £300,000 per week). With swimming the elite stage is the Olympic games where they can be earning good money through performance, TV revenue and sponsors, however it often isn't enough still to live on. Training is intense at this stage with up to 15 hours of training per week.
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