High Performance Systems

Planning for Performance and Positive Legacy Building

Medal output is far easier to measure and observe than defining the systems input underpinning its delivery.

The conversations and work with the high performance sports has been rich in these two demands, delivery of world level performance and build a positive legacy. The effectiveness of each sport’s performance director in managing these demands is proving vital to the ability of the sport to make progress in the development of their system.

Successful international high performance sports systems have many interrelated components, all aligned within a clear strategic framework. The Irish system is no different in this respect. To support systematic sustained performance in sport, Sport Ireland Institute and Sport Ireland's High Performance Unit have been working to understand better how different environments impact performance.

This represents a significant challenge for the sports and in particular the performance directors, coaches and support teams. Performance directors ultimately have the responsibility for aligning these elements. These involve getting people, process and culture to operate effectively as a system impacting positively against the demands of highest level sport performance.

Integrating preparation, competition and performance services plans across multiple athletes and objectives is no easy feat. In tackling world level performance challenges that face athletes and their support system the performance directors often utilise experience and expertise found inherently within the support team and occasionally, where necessary, external to their core support network.

The performance planning process developed by Sport Ireland Institute and the High Performance Unit in 2009 enables the sports to engage systematically with this challenge while at the same time helping Sport Ireland Institute to gauge how best to deploy performance services support. Having an effective system of planning for high performance that aligns the goals and objectives and facilitates the unity of the various elements within a single planning framework is only part of the answer.

In those sports where we observe performance improving, we are seeing performance directors and their support teams engaging collectively while building the plan.  Essentially these sports plans are guided by four principles

  1. The importance of collective contribution
  2. The importance of learning from experience
  3. The importance of continuous improvement
  4. The importance of leaving a positive legacy

The athlete, coach and the support team under the leadership of the performance director, all contribute to the development of the plan.  All involved will experience their own performance impacted by its content, how it’s developed and ultimately executed.  Each member of this team will have an individual experience of the same event. Bringing each experience to the planning process assists the team in understanding the support required in expediting performance issues.

Here at Sport Ireland Institute we recognise it’s not the plan in its written form that is important, rather it’s the process used by the team working collaboratively to prepare it and when complete, the processes used to ensure its effective execution.

Engaging people in bringing the plan to life while at the same time monitoring the impact it has on making improvements is often, in our experience, what determines a plan’s level of success.