Activating Athlete Development


Activating athlete development in your club is an exercise in behavior change. We want to help sport stakeholders change the way they think quality sport experiences should be facilitated, to the way evidence has proven they should be facilitated. In doing this, we can facilitate optimal, quality sport experiences for as many as possible, as long as possible, in the best environments possible, minimize many of the downstream problems plaguing our sport systems and most importantly support both recreational and high-performance development pathways.

Evidence shows, the more stakeholders feel like they have contributed to the process, the greater the buy in, stickiness, and sustainability to what is being proposed. This theory has been used to underpin this athlete development on-boarding system. There will always be those who refuse to move regardless of the evidence in support of change, so we’re advocating John Maxwell’s [Leader SHIFT] 25-50-25 rule, which states that “25% of people will be quick to embrace change, 50% will be undecided and 25% will NEVER be open to embracing change. Our challenge is keeping the latter 25% away from negatively influencing the 50% who have yet to make up their minds.”

This athlete development on-boarding system provides the knowledge, tools, and resources to successfully ACTIVATE athlete development in a club setting. Derived from over 20 years and over 25,000 hours of behavior change experience and supported by expertise from sport organizations, scientists, and practitioners from around the globe. As award-winning author James Clear [Atomic Habits] points out, “success is predicated on systems vs goals. The system is the process that leads to the desired results.”

We highly recommended not skipping or removing steps from this development system. While this process can and should be nuanced to suit the needs of the organization and its membership, that nuance should happen through the addition versus omission of steps. The process begins with the understanding of the tenets of a quality sport experience and works step by step all the way through to providing coaches with tips and tools on ‘how to’ apply the knowledge in real time practice and game scenarios. As always, we are here to help support the journey.

For additional information or support on Activating Athlete Development in Your Club, please email: [email protected]


Graphic depicting Four Tenets of Quality Sport
Four Tenets of Quality Sport: Organizational Alignment, Disciplined Project Management, Stakeholder Connectivity, Integrated Operating Environment

Prior to engaging in this process, we recommend doing your homework to determine where you really are. This can be accomplished through Stakeholder Questionnaires. In the event you’ve already completed this, proceed through the Four Tenets of Quality Sport Management.

1.Organizational Alignment

  • Create alignment, starting at the top.
  • Vision, mission, values, goals & objectives
  • 6-20 points of contact

2. Disciplined Project Management

  • Dedicated headcount internally – Technical Lead / Administrative Lead
  • External consultants – Working with Technical Lead / Administrative Lead
  • *Not 60-minute consecutive meetings or the expert presentation.

3. Stakeholder Connectivity

Information gathering stage:

Club engagement letter. Let them know:

  • we’re listening
  • why/what/how/who/when/where is coming.

Mandatory pre-season meeting with all stakeholders.

Pre- / mid- / end-of-season athlete combine:

Track, record, report & share the development data:

4. Integrated Operating Environment

Athlete & Coach Development:

Activation & Accountability of the 5C’s:

Marketing and communicating the development framework:

  • 18-week communications template based on managing key points of a typical season:
    • Anchored by a common theme
    • Stakeholder-specific messages
    • Content accessible by all stakeholders
    • An organization’s monthly communication to its members/stakeholders
    • Alignment of all key messages

Canada Soccer Nation Podcast

The Canada Soccer Nation Podcast hosted by Jason deVos, features engaging Canadian soccer guests speaking about a range of grassroots, coach education and club development topics. Check out all available episodes now!