The Pursuit of Excellence Programme (PEP) is the umbrella programme for coach development within the Institute.

The key support strands within PEP are:

  • Podium Programme: The Podium Programme provides bespoke development support to Ireland's World class high performance coaches.

  • Horizon Programme: The Horizon Programme offers development support to Ireland's emerging high performance coaches.

These programmes are currently finished. Please keep an eye on this web page for future opportunities.

The Pursuit of Excellence Programme has provided me with a critical performance capability and that is to reflect properly on my coaching practice. It has opened my mind to so many new ideas and really rejuvenated my career
— Jim Laverty, Head Coach, Paralympic Swimming

Pursuit of Excellence Programme review

An independent review by Professor David Lavallee, an international expert in the psychology of sport, commissioned by the Sport Ireland Institute evaluated the Pursuit of Excellence Programme (PEP) and its impact over the 2014-16 period. The aim of the review was to identify a set of recommendations designed to evolve the programme leading into the 2020 cycle.

The review found that the PEP is a highly successful programme delivering significant impact. A total of 43 PEP participants across 21 sports coached athletes that won 78 Olympic, Paralympic, World and European medals across 14 sports during the review period (2014-2016), and the medal haul and number of sports winning medals increased year-on-year. A total of 54% (68 out of 125) of athletes in Rio representing Ireland were coached by 18 Pursuit of Excellence participants across 16 sports. Out of the 13 medals won in Rio, 10 were coached by Pursuit of Excellence participants across 4 sports. A list of the medals won from 2014-2016 by athletes that were supported by Pursuit of Excellence Programme participants can be found in Appendix 1 of the report below.

The Pursuit of Excellence Programme compares exceptionally well with other coach development programmes globally, with some areas arguably world leading. Strengths of the programme include robust recruitment processes, the provision of a safe learning environment where coaches feel challenged, motivated, supported and satisfied, well-planned programmes, partnership working and very high standards of support delivery. Support and development is part of the culture of the Sport Ireland Institute, and they are firmly committed to supporting the development of high performance coaches.

PEP coaches were asked to describe the impact of the programmes on their professional practice and what changes in practice they noticed as a result of participation in the Programme. All coaches across programmes stated that it helped them be more ready to perform as coaches in training and competition settings. They stated that the programme supported them and, in doing so, helped them grow in confidence. The coaches felt challenged, motivated and were enjoying coaching more as a result of the Programme. 

Of the athletes asked to describe the impact of the PEP programme on the development of their coach. There was a general consensus that the programme had a significant impact on their coaches. The athletes said that the programme changed the behaviour of coaches in a positive way, compared to coaches not on the programme. They noted how they are more confident and motivated as coaches, and have a better mindset both in training and competition. The athletes recognised how high performance coaches require both experience and knowledge, and how the programme was providing opportunities for both.


A copy of the review may be viewed here.