Authors: Jed Smith* (1), Peter Smolianov (2)
(1) Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and an Instructor in the area of Movement and Exercise Science at the University of Northern Iowa and is currently a doctoral student at the United States Sports Academy
(2) Sport Management Professor at Salem State University
Jed Smith, MS, CSCS, USA Weightlifting National Coach, USA Weightlifting National Instructor, USA Track and Field Level 1 Track Coach
High Performance Director at University of Northern Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA, 50614-0241
This exploratory study of the High Performance Model of Sport Management examines the model’s origins and where these ideas were first applied in the sports industry. This review discusses the evolution of its use in high level sport, and the successes incurred in systems utilizing the model. The investigation discusses the recent spreading of the model throughout Olympic and professional sports organizations throughout the world, where High Performance concepts are being studied and implemented into professional sports franchises in the United States as well as American universities. This study focuses on a particular ingredient important to the success of the High Performance Model at the “meso” and “micro” levels of implementation. This central step is the establishment of an integral operational position titled “High Performance Director” or “High Performance Manager”. The duties, responsibilities, areas of expertise, and traits necessary for success are reviewed and discussed. The inquiry explores the natural evolution of the High Performance Model into the industry of NCAA Division I athletics, where implementation is occurring at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Here, the Smith and Smolianov High Performance Model is being applied within UNI Athletics, using strength and conditioning as the median for operation. The infrastructure is being created and organized for proper application of the model. The study looks at how technology is being used to help monitor, track, and adjust training protocols as well as assist in the proper development of athletes. The review will indicate tactics used for selling the concepts internally, within an NCAA athletic, as well as an educational setting, exposing key players and supports, explaining the connection between these pillars of support and the importance of creating synergy, transparency, and an environment of effective communication. This work is the first in a series of exploratory reviews and future research to be conducted by the authors, who are reporting the current, ongoing case study, within UNI’s NCAA athletics/education program.
Keywords: high performance model, management, history
Currently in the United States, in sporting professions, there is increasing interest regarding an effective sports management system known as the High Performance Model. At the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) conference, the Director of Performance of the English Premier League’s West Bromwich Albion football team, Dr. Mark Gillett (2014), presented a paper: Developing a High Performance Model in the English Premier League. Could this work in the NBA? The most prosperous franchises and top athlete salaries in the world come from the English Premier League, resulting in small margin of precision for victory which demands the High Performance (HP) Model of Sports Management (Gillett, 2014).
US National Governing Bodies (NGBs) under the USOC have been using the HP concept and adding HP positions to their organizational structures. Perhaps the most successful HP system has been developed by the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). The USSA studied the best international practices to develop and deliver a national athlete and coach development program and since 2001 used its “Elite Performance Model (EPM)” to define and evaluate all aspects of its HP programs (Walshe, McCann, Lundstrum, Weatherford, Parker-Simmons, Keller & Gundersen, 2006). The USSA invested heavily in cutting-edge scientific research to assist coaches and athletes, particularly with sport science, medicine, management, pedagogy, and sport-specific skills and training. Conditioning is a critical part of the USSA’s HP program. A “Physical Assessment CD” has been developed for coaches. All athletes are tracked with athlete monitoring systems (Walshe et al., 2006). The success of these USSA systems is evident in USSA team members winning nine of 25 United States medals at the 2006 Turin WOGs, 20 of 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver WOGs and 17 of 28 at the Sochi 2014 WOGs (IOC, 2015).
US NGBs governed by the USOC are starting to establish nurturing athlete development models similar to those used for Olympic preparations in the USSR and Eastern Europe after World War II and adopted by the end of the twentieth century by most of successful Olympic and national teams from China and Cuba to Australia, Canada and USA (Smolianov, Zakus and Gallo, 2014). USA Hockey (2015) adopted such a Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model used by most Canadian NGBs to create the American Development Model (ADM). Launched in 2009, the ADM provides a national blueprint for optimal athlete development to HP.
Within many sport organizations, a new, specialized HP manager position has evolved. This post has different names, such as HP manager, performance director, and HP director. These specialized roles have been noted in amateur and in professional sport organizations (Smith & Stewart, 1999; Zakus & Bird, 2002) and studied at NGBs of such countries as Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and USA by Zakus and Smolianov (2005) and in Australia, Canada, Malaysia and USA by Sotiriadou (2013).
The success and well-being of athletes have been guided by the increasingly sophisticated and uniformed High Performance Management (HPM) Model, which has been extensively studied in Europe but not in the US. This study investigates the progression of HPM in the United States.
First, literature was reviewed to examine the history of HPM and how the HPM Model has become common in preparation of Olympic and professional athletes in many successful sporting nations. Second, to examine requirements of HPM positions emerged across the world and in the United States, content analysis of six HPM job descriptions from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the US was performed in reference to a systematic HPM Model described in the literature.
Finally, a case study of a new HPM position at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) was used to investigate an emerging HPM practice in American university sport and to suggest further systematic HPM advancements, including innovative HPM technologies currently developed at UNI.
High performance management (HPM) history (definitions)
In defining the HP Model, numerous sources can be applied. The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) (Premier League, 2011), states “the EPPP is a long term plan which promotes the development of a world leading Academy System. It aims to deliver an environment that promotes excellence, nurtures talent and systematically coverts this talent into professional players capable of playing first team football at the club that develops them. The EPPP must promote technical excellence and ensure financial viability now and in the future. To achieve this, the modernized Academy System will be regularly and independently audited, updated and improved” (p. 12). Within this definition, a few key points emerge. First, player development is of the utmost importance; working to use best practice with a systematic approach allows the athlete to perform at the highest level possible. Second, the correlation between technical excellence and financial capabilities is made. Third, there will be continual assessments to determine best practice.
Badau, Camarda, Serbanoiu, Virgil, Bondoc-Ionescu and Badau (2010) described performance management as “a term used to improve team performance, based on the principles of measurement, appraisal, action and monitoring” (p. 90). Here again athlete performance is the center of focus, with determining best practice through measuring, monitoring, and adjusting. This creates an optimal situation for the athlete’s performance to progress. The Sport England (2001) Report explains “as the use of performance indicators becomes more widespread… for all aspects of sports provision, the indicators that are of most value will doubtless emerge”.
The above discussion reveals the following important aspects of HP management. One, there is an economic impact with elite competitions and performance. Two, there are many services surrounding an athlete and a team impacting performance. Three, to improve athletic performance, best practice must be determined within each service resourced to the athlete and team. Four, to determine best value, constant auditing and measurement of service effectiveness is necessary. In their textbook Managing High Performance Sport, Sotiriadou and De Bosscher (2013), explain the recent spreading of the HP model throughout the world as HP sport has become a multi-billion dollar a year industry. The authors discuss the importance of the role of the HP director which is not fully understood, particularly in the United States where HPM is in its infancy. However, the book discusses the HP director as an essential position to legitimize the HP model across the world. The HP director creates an environment and links the system where the developmental capacities and future successes of the athlete are fully-fledged. When discussing the roles of the HP director, Sotiriadou and De Bosscher (2013) stress that “they need to facilitate a collaborative and effective relationship with programme partners to ensure the optimum daily training environment is available for athletes” (p. 9).
HPM history (economics)
Just as Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management (1914) evolved out of the economic boom during the industrial revolution, similar pressures are creating a move in the same direction within the sports industry. Kim and Trail (2010) studied consumer behavior in the sports industry, illuminating sports as one of America’s leading industries which generates nearly 500 billion dollars a year. It is estimated that spectators spend almost 18 billion dollars a year in the United States on tickets to events, with another 10 billion dollars in incidental expenses and purchases associated with the event.
Kim and Trail (2010) studied constraints associated to attendance and factors that would negatively affect ticket sales. These authors found that team performance was either a motivator or a constraint as far as attendance to games was concerned. If a team had a winning record, it was a motivator for attendance. If a team had a losing record, it was a constraint on attendance. Ultimately, a team’s performance affected the revenue generated by a sporting organization. Winning a championship or advancing far in a playoff scenario generated greater revenue for an athletic organization. Humphreys and Mondello (2007) showed winning an NCAA Championship benefits a university athletic department by increases in donations towards athletics in the sports of football and men’s basketball.
Hodge and Tanlu (2009) discussed the economic impact of the sport industry on colleges in the United States, highlighting the NCAA generated $591 million dollars in advertising proceeds while stressing numerous colleges signing $100 million dollar plus multi-media contracts. Kim and Trail (2010), considered performance as a motivator or a constraint, and the potential revenue involved in the collegiate sports industry including the idea that how a team finishes a season will greatly impact the profit generating likelihood for a University.
HPM history (origins)
Key HP elements can be tracked to the rational preparation of ancient Greeks for their Olympics which included: macro (e.g., several years) and micro (e.g., several days) training cycles; a specialized techno-tactical preparation; the use of (then) advanced training equipment; psychological preparation; performance enhancing substances; recovery from training, competition, and injury; and athlete support teams comprised of coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists – all based on knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and psychology (Palaelogos, 1976; Platonov, 2005; Platonov & Guskov, 1994; Poole, 1965; Smolianov et al., 2014; Winniczuk, 1983).
Liebler and McConnell (2011) discussed the roots of performance based management practices entering into health care fields through the development and practice of Scientific Management. Looking into the history of the HP Model of sports management, an argument can be made for the origin stemming from Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management (1914) theory applied to production lines during the Industrial Revolution. Taylor explained the main objective is to improve economic efficiency with a systematic approach incorporating best practices. The current system is constantly analyzed in order for the corporation to maximize profits, continuing to reap financial gains. To apply the concepts of Scientific Management, Taylor prescribed a larger ratio of managers to workers as compared to previous models of management. The key to operating at a higher output, using Scientific Management, is guaranteeing a high level of control over the daily practices of employees. This is put in place through management. Scientific Management was also referred to as “Process Management” in its infancy, implying monitoring the daily procedures to a greater degree will direct the outcome. To control the process, Scientific Management uses empirical measures to determine what is important. Driven by data, informed decisions are made on efficiency and waste instead of accepting tradition, opinion, and pre-existing notions.
Using the preceding rudimentary overview of Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management (1914), it is not difficult to realize the parallels to the English Premier League’s High Performance Model of sport management. Badau et al. (2010) explained “performance management in sports activity cannot be accomplished without the use of scientific methods and techniques, which can ensure the knowing and the efficient application of objective economical laws, efficient and rational resource administration, stimulation and creativity use of sport instructor-managers, proper evaluation of results, decision making optimization and of all management functions, technical, economical, social-political and human dimensions integration for sportive structures” (p. 90), further connecting the industrial revolution’s management system to modern day European sport.
The concepts of Scientific Management (1914) were utilized in the former Soviet Union for systematic approach to the development of athletes and sports teams. Smolianov and Zakus (2008) explained the initial use of HP models in Eastern European countries for sport development. Smolianov et al. (2014) detailed how American, Western European, and Australian systems have analyzed and partly adapted former USSR HP models: LTAD guidelines have been implemented by most Canadian NGBs and many NGBs in other English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Africa and now the United States (Smolianov et al., 2014). These guidelines, authored by Balyi (2001) and Balyi and Hamilton (2010), stem from the USSR and Eastern European sport development approaches outlined by Riordan (1978, 1980) and Shneidman (1978). Theories of training and periodization pioneered by Matveev (1964, 1977, 1983, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2008) and further developed and applied by Bompa (1983), Bompa and Harff (2009), Platonov (1988, 2005) and other sport scientists and coaches. These LTAD mechanisms have helped current Russia (and now China) achieve sporting success efficiently. However, the LTAD guidelines developed by Matveev (2008) have not been fully applied in any country, including Russia, where sport system has not fully recovered after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. US athletes, coaches, and sport administrators are still to take full advantage of these methods.
Sport management researchers in the 21st century have attempted to develop optimal models for organization of HP sport retaining the “macro-, meso-, and micro” concept which has been used in Eastern Europe to organize and periodize training: Green and Houlihan (2005) analyzed elite sport policies; while De Bosscher, De Knop, Van Bottenburg and Shibli (2006) and De Bosscher, Shibli, Van Bottenburg, De Knop and Truyens (2010) summarized successful sport policy factors. Figure 1 shows a model used to analyze sport development in the US (Smolianov et al., 2014) and in Russia (Smolianov and Zakus, 2008): the Model’s macro-level embraces elements of socioeconomic, cultural, legislative, and organizational support for a national sport system by the whole of civil society and by the State; the meso-level includes infrastructure, personnel, and services enabling sport programs; and the micro-level consists of operations, processes, and methodologies for development of individual athletes. The interdependent elements of the Model are numbered in Figure 1 to express their relative magnitude and importance in a sport system:
Figure 1 The Smolianov and Zakus Model (Smolianov & Zakus, 2008)
National sport authorities such as federal sport related departments and national Olympic committees as well as governing bodies (NGBs) tend to be more concerned with macro and meso levels, while leagues, regional associations and clubs are focused on meso and micro levels of sport development. Nevertheless, most sport organizations aim to develop participants at the micro level utilizing the resources created at macro and meso levels. This seems to be consistent with the HP positions discussed further.
HPM job positions
To ascertain possible HPM competencies, an analysis of HP position descriptions from New Zealand Hockey (2004), Great Britain Modern Pentathlon (2005), Diving Australia (2005), and USA Canoe/Kayak (2005), Australia’s New South Wales Institute of Sport (2014) and US Taekwondo (2013) was completed. As can be seen from Table 1, each HPM position related to all seven elements of the HP Model by Smolianov and Zakus (2008).
Table 1: Six job descriptions for HPM Positions and their relation to the elements of the Smolianov and Zakus Model (Related elements are given in parentheses in descending order of relevance)
Responsible for and has direct authority over all non-technical aspects of members of the Australian team from team assembly to team arrival in Australia (7, 6, 2, 3, 4)
Responsible for the day-to-day management of the team including: dealing with team or individual problems as they arise, behavior of the team member, ensuring the team meets the requirements imposed on them by DA and National Coach and any other matters which may arise from time to time (7, 2, 3, 4)
Responsible for assigning duties and responsibilities to coaches, sports science/ medicine staff and team members as required or appropriate (3, 5, 7, 6, 2, 4)
Responsible for ensuring that team personnel and structure operate in such a manner so as to allow the Australian team to achieve optimal results (3, 7, 4, 5)
Responsible for specific areas including finance, reconciliation of accounts, conduct of all management meetings (general managerial)
Responsible for acting as the lead spokesperson for the Australian team, both in Australia and overseas including interaction with the media and at official team functions (3, 2)
Assist the national coach in ensuring all team members receive information which may be relevant to their health and performance at competitions e.g. drug tests (7, 6, 3, 2)
Jointly with the National coach attend technical committee meetings at the competition (7, 4, 5, 3)
Responsible for sending of a daily report to DA including results
Responsible for producing a written report on all organizational aspects of the tour (3, 2, 7, 6)
Assist diving Australia and the National Coach in the management of the following components of the High Performance Program: HPP Management Committee; NTP Coaches panel; DA selection committee; national training program planning; sports medicine/ sports science advisory committee; liaise with ASC, AOC, SIS/SAS’s and SDA’s (3, 2, 7, 6)
Assist in the management of the following aspects of the national training program: standardization of program and services across all National Training Centers; coordination of National squad; competition program and Australian team management; national camps programs; liaise with HPP coaches (5, 3, 7, 4, 6)
Assist Diving Australia and National coach in the provision of technical reports to key stakeholders by designing and maintaining a performance evaluation program for the National Training program and international competition in the following areas: fitness testing, results and trends; training effort (volume and modes); competition performance database (7, 6, 2, 4, 3, 2)
Strong management, organizational and communication skills; extensive knowledge of elite programs, elite coaching and elite athletes; a high level of self-motivation and an ability to work under pressure; relevant tertiary qualifications and personal computer skills of a high order (general managerial, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
The USACK High performance director will administer USACK policies and procedures and be responsible for budgeting and control in the Olympic programs (1, general managerial)
Other duties will include responsibility for the anti-doping programs of USACK, USOC, ICF, USADA and WADA as well as a wide array of other areas of our cooperation with the USOC and ICF (7, 3, 2)
The HPD will work directly with USACK coaches and will support the work of the Sprint and Slalom Committees of USACK (3, 2)
Superior communication skills (general managerial, 1-7)
Strong report writing and presentation skills (general managerial, 1-7)
Computer literacy (general managerial, 1-7)
Possess an in depth knowledge of Canoe/ Kayak racing at an international level and/or experience directing High performance plans in other sports (7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, general managerial)
Must be able to manage and lead athletes, coaches and volunteers and other team staff (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, general managerial)
Have the ability to manage complex budgets (1, general managerial)
New Zealand Hockey
To develop world-class High performance programs and to manage its operational activities.
HP Administration: Assist in implementing the vision, mission and objectives of the HP plan, and build the commitment of the individual members to them (1, 3)
Ensure that a holistic philosophy, recognizing the need for players to have balanced lifestyles, is reflected in the culture of the HP programs (1, 3, 6, 7)
Coordinate the writing of the national teams international programs and monitor its implementation (2, 3, 4)
Coordinate the revision and updating of the HP plan (1-7)
Coordinate the development of High performance coaching plan (3)
Monitor and review the talent identification program (6)
Coordinate the communication of information to members of the HP programs and the HP Committee (2)
Manage the high performance budget (1-7)
Competition and preparation
Ensure the arrangements for national team tours or tournaments are successful (4, 5, 6, 7)
Attend training camps as required (5, 6, 7)
Assist the national coach to coordinate the selection process and its release to the board and media (7, 6, 3, 2)
Sports Science and Medicine
Manage and coordinate the carding system in conjunction with the NZ academy of sport (3, 7, 6, 5)
Coordinate the use of sports science and sport medicine services in conjunction with national coaches (3)
Identify and prescribe the role and responsibilities of all personnel except the national coaches (3, 7, 6, 4)
Coordinate induction programs upon entry for HP personnel (3, 7, 6, 4)
Monitoring and evaluation
Coordinate the reviews of all events and personnel in the HP programs (general managerial, 3)
Manage the implementation of recommendations from reviews (general managerial)
Report as required to the CEO (general managerial)
GB Modern Pentathlon
The further development of a Performance Plan for Modern Pentathlon, which will achieve the specific goal to win individual and team, medals at the Olympic Games and to submit an application to the Lottery Sports Fund World Class. (7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
To submit an application to the Lottery Sports Fund World Class Performance Program (2)
Liaise with key international agencies (2)
Prepare the detail of British academy of sport/regional network brief (2, 6, 7, 5, 1, 3, 4)
Monitor and evaluate the development of the performance program (6, 7, 3, 4, 5)
Manage all budgets and financial aspects of the program. (1-7), general managerial)
Develop the performance plan, structures and systems to win individual and team medals at the Olympic Games (7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
To develop a system to develop individually tailored training programs and to monitor and support individual athletes (7, 6, 5, 4, 2, 3, 1, )
Develop and implement a strategy for the recruitment and appointment of national coaches, coordinate the development of the technical content of the coaching program (3)
Establish the management and coaching structure in support of international representative teams (7, 6, 3)
To coordinate the identification and selection of athletes for the national teams (6, 7)
To identify and develop a squad of elite athletes to various stages of development (6, 7)
Review facilities strategies (5)
Review the system for identifying and selecting talented athletes (6, 7)
Provide a structure for the support and professional development of all persons in the program (3)
Liaise with the International Modern Pentathlon Federation to design an international competition structure for appropriate age groups (4, 2, 6)
Review the domestic and international competition program (4)
To coordinate a review of sports science and sports medicine support (3)
Direct and coordinate the sports science and sports medicine support (3)
New South Wales Institute of Sport (Australia)
Minimum 10 to 15 years of experience in high performance sport and services leadership (7, general managerial)
Business experience (general managerial)
Success with building high performance culture (3, general managerial)
Management of multi-disciplinary high performance teams (3, 7, general managerial)
Experience in planning and organizing high performance service delivery, including prioritizing, determining tasks, scheduling, leveraging resources and staying focused to achieve agreed service outcomes (3, 7 general managerial)
Experience in reviewing high performance service effectiveness relative to athlete progress and performance in key areas of sporting progression, health management, balance and attitude and ethical behavior (3, 6, 7)
Strategic planning to achieve high performance sport outcomes (1-7, general managerial)
Experience with integrated management of and accountability for high performance sport outcomes (1-7, general managerial)
Success with building strategic relationships (2)
Experience with managing workplace compliance in a high performance service environment (3, 7)
The knowledge expected: extensive knowledge of the requirements for successful holistic athlete development and performance including physical, technical, medical, career and education, psychological and social responsibility components (3, 6, 7); understanding of the theory of sport coaching and its application to the training of elite athletes (3, 6, 7); knowledge and understanding of the Australian High Performance Sport System (1-7); knowledge and understanding of the key components/levers for successful High Performance Sport Management and delivery (1-7); a well-grounded understanding and practical knowledge and experience in the use of current information and technology systems as they apply to High Performance Sport are required; in addition, a demonstrated ability to embrace, assess and apply new technology as it becomes available is also required (3, 7, general managerial)
The competencies desired: driving for results, coaching, decision making, tenacity, delegating responsibility, planning and organizing, aligning performance for success, leading through vision and values, building trust, building a successful team, gaining commitment, facilitating change, athlete focus, continuous improvement, continuous learning, adaptability (general managerial)
Personal style wanted: ethical/honest, commitment to excellence, socially responsible, team oriented, strong ambition for the organization, initiative/adaptability, disciplined, passion/enthusiasm, clarity of thinking, self-belief (general managerial)
Primary Responsibilities: responsible for developing and executing USA Taekwondo’s annual HP Plan with the assistance of the National Team Coach and support staff (1-7, general managerial).
General: provide leadership on all matters related to USA Taekwondo’s HP Department; coordinate with the USOC on all matters related to USA Taekwondo’s HP department; write and present the annual USAT HP Plan to the USOC; implement the programs of the annual HP Plan; develop and be accountable for the annual HP Budget; oversee, direct and evaluate the HP Manager; oversee and manage the Assistant National Team Coaching Staff (1-7, general managerial).
National Team: direct and oversee management of all National Teams, National Team trips and National Team athlete programing (7); serve as the team leader for all National Team Events (4); liaise with the National Team Coach to develop a National Team event and training calendar annually (4); oversee and keep record of the National Team Coach’s written event reports, written athlete evaluations and written athlete training plans (7); develop team and staff selection procedures for all National Team events (6,7); maintain the international competitive analysis and results management database (6,7); communicate with the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) as needed to remain current on competition rules and competition schedules (4); communicate with National Team Coaches and USAT Referee Chair on matters controlled by or related to the WTF (3, 7); oversee all matters relating to the National Teams and the USADA (2, 7); develop and manage all Athlete Support Programs (1-7); develop and manage USAT Performance Enhancement Team (2, 3, 7); develop and manage USAT Sports Medicine Committee (2, 3, 7); coordinate with National Team Coaches to develop cutting edge scouting techniques and reference tools (2, 6, 7); maintain USAT scouting library (6, 7); develop DartTV HP website and oversee administration (2, 3); coordinate proper medical coverage for all HP programing (2, 3,7); create and develop new programing and tools to give U.S. athletes the best chance of being successful and World Championships and the Olympic Games (2, 3, 7).
Development: advance the Referee Development Program (RDP) in cooperation with the USAT Referee Chair and Referee Committee (2, 3); develop methods for referee testing (2, 3), advancement and evaluation using sport science and technology (2, 3, 6, 7); oversee, direct and implement the Coaching Identification & Development Program (CIDP) (2, 3); oversee, direct and implement the Athlete Development Program (ADP) (2, 6); coordinate with and direct USAT’s Performance Enhancement Team and the National Team Coaches to develop and carry out the sport science-based development initiatives related to the CIDP, the ADP and the RDP (2, 3, 6, 7); develop methods for testing athlete potential and current athlete performance using sport science and technology (2, 3, 6, 7); research new technologies and utilize tools such as Edge10, Dartfish, Dart TV, and webinars to bring cutting edge technology and information to the CIDP, the ADP and the RDP (2, 3, 6, 7); develop creative ways to generate revenue for USAT while working in accordance with the annual High Performance Plan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); oversee the annual Coach of the Year Program (2, 3).
Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree in sport administration, physiology, kinesiology (graduate degree preferred) or equivalent experience (1-7); 5+ years previous experience in HP or related field (1-7); effective time management, organizational and leadership skills; strong work ethic; excellent written and oral communication skills; strong computer skills (general managerial)
The review of these job descriptions identified the need for a more systematic approach to knowledge, skills, and abilities of HP managers to meet their responsibilities. Table 1 reveals that these position descriptions lack systematic organization. While these positions in U.K. Modern Pentathlon and New Zealand Hockey have some rational order (e.g., breaking KSAs in such groups as Finance, Competitions, Sport Medicine), those for example in USA Canoe/Kayak have little order and mix general managerial (core) KSAs (e.g., communication and complex budget management) with HPM-specific (contingency or situational) KSAs (e.g., responsibility for the anti-doping programs, knowledge of Canoe/ Kayak racing at the international level). Though the HPM-specific contingency KSAs directly reflect specific HPM areas (e.g., standardization of program and services across all National Training Centers by Diving Australia), other KSAs encompass many HPM areas and are not specific (e.g., manage and lead athletes, coaches and volunteers, and other team staff, ensuring the team meets the requirements imposed on them by Diving Australia and National Coach and any other matters that may arise from time to time).
Though these position descriptions have mentioned or implied sport development as part of their responsibilities, the U.K. Pentathlon position stressed this aspect in a separate development section and explicitly specified important tasks such as growing sport through the development of athletes to various stages; support and professional development of all persons in the program; and design of competition structures for appropriate age groups and participation levels. The U.K. Pentathlon position description more systematically detailed processes to achieve the successful integration of mass and elite sport; therefore, it can be exemplified as a best-practice position description. The complexity of the HPM roles makes it hard for employing organizations to systematically specify all-important KSAs in the job descriptions, which may lead to ambiguity. (See the example from Diving Australia just mentioned above and the example from the USA Canoe/Kayak: Duties include responsibility for the anti-doping programs of the USACK, the USOC, the ICF, the USADA, and WADA and a wide array of other areas of cooperation with the USOC and ICF).
As Zakus and Smolianov (2005) indicated, a key feature of an emerged HPM role is the need for both sport management and coaching management knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to include competencies necessary for coaching and supporting athletes at the highest levels of their performance. As depicted in Figure 2, the HP role involves both leadership and coordination with a wide number of sport specialists, teams, events and organizations.
Figure 2: The Smolianov and Zakus Model and HPM KSAs (Smolianov & Zakus, 2008, 2009; Zakus & Smolianov, 2005)
Figure 2 shows that an important skill is the need for an HP manager to be a coaching coordinator. The new notion of ‘coaching’ is developing–from primarily training program advice to full support covering all aspects of athlete life, which is strongly modeled on the concept of coaching as developed in former Eastern Bloc sport systems. Ideally HP managers must provide expertise and coordinate specialists in all performance areas from training, medicine, diet and psychology to career management and marketing (Zakus & Smolianov, 2005). Table 1 might suggest that while it is probably important to be a former competitor and coach for HPM success, the varied experiences and knowledge of the many resources surrounding elite athletics provides a veteran strength and conditioning coach the tools to create a logical fit into this role. This micro- level approach is perhaps a good first step for HPM positions within athletic departments of NCAA programs. In the future, HPM positions could be further developed to include meso and macro level responsibilities. When a sport organization adds the HPM position, the role can integrate the macro, meso and micro levels of management, properly creating synergy and the ability to synchronize the athletic business. The following current example models such a position on micro level of sport development.
HPM in the English Premier League
The league has been putting the HP Model into practice throughout the United Kingdom trying to increase the number of quality players, provide more time for coaches to coach players, improve coaching supplies, insert a quality control system of measurement, positively encourage stockholders showing a return on investment, and to make gains in every area of the athlete development. Gillett (2014) explained that the role of the leagues’ performance director is to make sure that all “key pillars of performance” are operating at a high level, and always moving towards best practice. Figure 2 summarized the pillars described by Dr. Gillett:
Figure 3: The role of a Performance Director in the English Premier League (Gillett, 2014)
Gillett (2014) alleged the Performance Directors in the English Premier League are typically veterans of the strength and conditioning profession. He explained the logical fit, due to a strength and conditioning coach typically carrying many roles and responsibilities in regards to performance. Experienced strength and conditioning coaches have a background in demanding excellence in performance and understand many components dealing with elite performance, such as nutrition, sports psychology, athletic training, organizational management, sports medicine, as well as coaching and motivating.
Chadwick (2009) explained the idea of ad hoc type administrative practices in American sport. Gillett (2014) explained this is due to a typical CEO of a sports franchise not having a background in human performance. Typical CEOs have expertise in finance, upper administration management, fundraising, and marketing. This simple notion lends credibility to the Performance Director position used by the English Premier League. Gillett (2014) also stressed that a Head Coach does not necessarily have a background in exercise science, but instead is an expert in tactical and strategic methods needed in sport to perform during competition. A good Head Coach also is versed in the art of recruiting proper athletic talent and has the ability to put together competent assistant coaching staff. The idea here is that if a coach is concerned with all the resources involved outside of the coach’s spectrum of proficiency, the coach will not perform at an elite level within their expert environment. The same holds true for the CEO. Therefore, the position of a Performance Director and the use of methodologies in the HP Model of sports management allows for more efficient use of skill in each vocational field.
HPM at the University of Northern Iowa
Following international examples, the Athletic Department at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) started an HPM role in 2015 for the sport of football. It was advantageous that the Strength and Conditioning Coach was employed in the College of Education’s School of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Services (HPELS), working in conjunction with the Athletic Department. The forward thinking mindset of the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach was instrumental in order to implement the high performance model into the sport of football, as well as the progressive leadership style of Dean of the University’s College of Education and HPELS Director in order to pool school resources. Having the Strength and Conditioning Coach working close to instructors who teach and research sport science, medicine, nutrition and other aspects of athlete performance and wellness allowed for the connection of the resources surrounding the athletes. Strong academic focus allowed the UNI HPM position to provide an advanced scientific and technological service to athletes. A partnership was formed working with an athlete monitoring management corporation to create a management system compatible to high performance model standards and philosophies. The company built a cloud based dashboard for coaches and athletes, allowing for synergistic communication between pillar directors as well as a way to measure and monitor an athlete in all key athlete services (see figure 5).
The UNI HP manager coordinates areas consistent with the micro-level HPM responsibilities shown in Table 1 and the HPM pillars indicated by Gillette (2014) in Figure 3:
• Medical service
• Athletic training
• Sports psychology
• Strength and conditioning
• Sports nutrition
• Coaching development
• External specialists
Specific to the NCAA demands, additional areas needed to ensure UNI HPM success include:
• Academic tutoring
• Socialization into the collegiate academic culture and team culture
• Leadership development
• Community outreach.
A University Model has been created to integrate these specific needs for the collegiate athlete. This model takes into consideration the additional areas and resources desirable for the NCAA athlete to succeed.
Figure 4: The Smith and Smolianov Collegiate High Performance Model (Smolianov & Smith, 2015)
Based on the synergistic mechanisms created by integrating the structure as detailed in the Smith and Smolianov Model (Figure 4), a unique cloud based management system was built to make this model a daily working reality for the athletes and coaches. The Smith and Smolianov Model was applied from the participant’s perspective in order for the athlete to become more mindful of the resources surrounding her/him, making connections for his success.
Figure 5: The Smith and Smolianov Collegiate High Performance Model Dashboard – Initial Prototype (Smolianov & Smith, 2015)
In this rendering dashboard, each football player will have access and control of the pillars surrounding their success. Each pillar is entered into and represented by a button. Behind each button, the athlete has access to and will store information regarding his development, pillar measuring, comparisons, daily logging, athletic histories, etc. Coaches and pillar directors will communicate through this system with each other as well as with the athlete and UNI administrators, particularly using key performance indicators (KPIs) which help to evaluate and improve the system through shared objectives.
First football and then all other teams serviced by the UNI HPM system will be evaluated annually through the following criteria and data:
1. General Fitness– percent of athletes passing tests of strength, speed, endurance, flexibility and agility using common US instruments such as T-Test and some of the most scientifically validated international batteries such as GTO (2015) mastered for several decades in China and Russia (Smolianov et al., 2014) for both elite athletes and everyone in the community using three difficulty levels in 11 age specific categories of males and females
2. Sports Nutrition–percent of athletes passing Body Composition test measuring body fat and blood and urine test measuring deficiencies and excesses
3. Sports Medicine–number of visits to Sports Medicine (Orthopedic Surgeon/Team Doctor) per athlete and number of failed annual physicals (including cardiogram) per athlete
4. Athletic Training– percent of practices athletes missed
5. Academics–Team GPA
6. Sports Psychology– percent of athletes passing Mental Toughening Test called “MeBTough” Scale (a research based mental toughness gauge used to measure an athlete’s psychological competitive success over a macrocycle).
The UNI HP manager is pooling resources of each athlete service area together, analyzes practices, measures performances and sets goals for each area discussed. The UNI HPM is engaged in formal and informal dialogue inter and intra departmentally, creating synergy and efficiency within each area, while connecting all HPM elements, ultimately improving the situation for the athlete and bringing a higher level of performance.
The academic origins and focus of the UNI HPM program is driving its features for lifelong health of athletes and wider community. The developed software included innovative fitness tests and drills which go beyond sport-specific objectives: they help to prevent injuries of any sport participant and develop healthy daily habits of both athletes and recreational participants of all ages. This fitness program is being used to improve community fitness together with performance of UNI’s athletic teams. UNI attempts to create a best practice HPM program which integrates mass and elite sport where HP knowledge and resources trickle down to everyone and benefit community health.
In short, the process of collecting and centralizing data through the aforementioned evaluations of the dashboard listed above can be thought of as a treatment variable. By tracking measurable variables related to the six pillars, the HPM will be able to systematically improve these variables over time. Whether or not the improvements of these variables will actually result in a more effective and efficient system is yet to be determined. All stakeholders should work to identify broad outcome variables that can demonstrate the effectiveness of the HPM. These variables may be related to performance (winning percentage), finances (cost of services), academics (graduation rates) or other such variables. Such variables will be identified in relation to the implementation of the UNI HPM program in order to evaluate overall effectiveness specific to the university’s sport success and community fitness. These variables will be measured over the following three, five and ten years, in order to improve and advance the program.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
After an examination of the HPM Model, it is clear that this methodology of sports management is evolving internationally. Following Olympic NGBs, HPM systems are being adopted by professional teams and franchises as well as universities. In Gillett’s (2014) estimation, once the NFL and NBA start to incorporate this system, a rapid spreading of the HP Model would occur in the US, catapulting HPM methodology into the NCAA (M. Gillett, personal communication, July 8, 2014). Confirming Gillett’s predictions, Bell (2015) indicated that the HPM Model has started to infiltrate into NFL franchises: in 2015, the Miami Dolphins hired Wayne Diesel as the team’s Director of Sports Performance. Diesel came from the English Premier League where he worked in a similar role for the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club directing the diverse team of specialists and the resources necessary for the success and health of the club’s athletes. Diesel credits his Premier League experience with the emphasis on not just preventing injury but also improving the player overall, actually enhancing the franchise assets. As Diesel said, “by making them better athletes, they become less injured”. Bell’s (2015) investigation shows that the scientific data-driven and often experimental HP approach to performance and health enhancement is a challenging educational process for many at the Miami Dolphins, as it is for most US sport organizations adopting the HP Model which puts as much emphasis on holistic athlete development as on entertainment of audiences.
The HP Model of sport management appears to be fresh, novel, and innovative. Ironically, through deeper investigation of the history of its methodologies, this could not be further from the truth. Though, the success of the English Premier League has currently accentuated the practice of the HP Model, the origins of the practices can be traced much earlier. By exploring the time tested uses of ancient Olympic practices, Scientific Management in the Industrial Revolution, the spread to typical business management structures, the application of these management arrangements in the world of health care, and understanding usage during the period of Eastern Bloc sports dominance, one can see how this trend is involving in successful sport entities around the world. The HP Model works effectively in different socio-economic conditions throughout Eastern and Western countries (Smolianov et al., 2014).
The effectiveness of the HP Model in the United States is evident through practices of such organizations as USSA, USOC and now NFL and UNI. Considering the current trend and existing interest by our nation’s top sports franchises, it will not be long before the HP Model will be widely used in the United States and its effectiveness in American sport culture measured. Practices of USSA and NFL could lead US NGBs and professional leagues at the national level of sport development, while HPM experiences of UNI could provide a model for developing NCAA and other youth sport programs around schools, clubs and community centers. As the HPM is developed, stakeholders should identify variables that are able to measure the effectiveness of implementation in order for continued improvement to take place.
The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Robin Lund for his contribution to the organization and conceptual development of the manuscript.
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