Introducing The Athlete Development Project: Hello world! Posted on 2nd April 2020 (8th April 2021) by Ben Bradley Hello World! I say that in the hope that somebody is listening, or in this case reading. What I really hope is that I am talking to many people and you are all accessing this from up and down the UK, across Europe and around the World. The internet gives us an opportunity to connect and share our work, thoughts and ideas with people around the World and while that makes me slightly nervous it is also a very exciting prospect. As a result of this I have the chance to introduce you to a brand-new project, something very different, something out of my comfort zone but something I am excited to share. This journey started over a year ago on a Family Summer holiday, during the off-season break. I am lucky enough to enjoy going to work each day; however, nothing can beat true quality family time. Time to be with the people closest to you, relax (as much as you can with young kids) and switch off from the daily routine, leave the day-to-day responsibilities behind and take time to reflect on the past few months. It was during this time that I felt the need to start brainstorming some ideas and writing down some thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head for a while. These ideas normally put to one side while the chaos of family life and the Football season take centre stage. Any excuse to post a picture of a beautiful holiday destination I have had frustrations for a long time about the industry I work in and the lack of knowledge that students and practitioners seemed to have when it comes to being ready to work in an environment that is aimed at helping young athletes and people flourish. Countless interviews for prospective Sport Scientists, S&C coaches, Physios and Sports Therapists looking for full time, part time and placement roles that were not equipped with the knowledge required to work at the level. Specifically, the knowledge required to run a long-term athlete development programme and the importance of growth and maturation. I will admit this is a bit of a generalisation and there are many excellent practitioners that I have had the pleasure of working alongside, meeting and learning (stealing ideas) from and I firmly believe we have an industry full of talented people. Maybe it is the new generation that need a nudge in the right direction. With the competition for jobs so fierce nobody can afford to think the role they want will come looking for them. Do I blame the new generation of students and practitioners? Not really. I believe there needs to be a certain level of commitment to go out and separate yourself from the crowd however, they may need some direction on how to achieve that. When I was doing my undergraduate degree; did I learn specifically about Youth athlete development, about growth and maturation, about the differences between youth and adult athletes? No, I didn’t. My first role in the industry was as a placement student Sport Scientist with a professional football clubs’ first team. When I finished and started applying for academy roles was I ready? No, but I thought I was. I couldn’t understand why clubs wouldn’t want me for an academy role when I had first team experience. What I didn’t realise is it is a completely different environment. So why should I expect any of the new generation to be any different. As far as I know the landscape in undergraduate degrees is pretty similar in terms of the lack of specific work around the youth athlete (with some exceptions) and the dream for most is the lights of a first team environment in team sports or to work with high performance athletes. So, do I blame Universities? No, not really either. Sport and Exercise Science for example is so broad and there is so many areas of expertise to delve into like physiology, biomechanics, Psychology, Nutrition, Analysis, Research and more. In addition, not every student wants to or will end up working in professional sport. Therefore, the Universities are also nurturing the next generation of PE teachers, lab technicians, lecturers, fitness instructors, NHS workers etc. So how can we expect them to cover everything? Specialised degrees might enable a more streamlined route to a career path in professional Sport but does that then narrow future employment opportunities for individuals who are after a job in a saturated market. Maybe specialised MSc courses may be the answer and we have seen more and more pop up around the country in recent years. Maybe the answer is something different. With the times we live in and the technology available to us the emergence of online information, continued professional development resources and online education has transformed the way we gather knowledge. Even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have seen a surge in online sharing of knowledge that at times was brilliant yet slightly overwhelming. Maybe, in our industry we can give back to the next and current generation and try and plug the gaps we know they will inevitably need filling to fulfil their potential to gain a career or develop their current one. Writing this blog is making me want to go back. The brainstorming in the sun led me to start my movement to get all of the information on growth and maturation for youth athletes together and in one place. There are some excellent resources out there but it would be ideal if everything was easily accessible, all in one place. For Sport Scientists, S&C coaches, Physios and Sports Therapists, coaches and recruitment staff, current and aspiring to have the chance to invest in themselves and learn from some of the best applied practitioners and academics working in the environment. I think at The Athlete Development Project, we have managed to assemble a team of people who can provide just that. People who have together been working in the industry for more than 50 years. The team boasts some of the best academics alongside highly experienced practitioners working in youth sport today. All with immense experience of the scientific underpinning of growth and maturation and its effects on youth athlete development, as well as the day to day practice of developing strategies’ and environments to allow these athletes to flourish. The certificate in Growth and maturation for Youth Athletes, endorsed by The British Association of Sport & Exercise Science (BASES) is now available to access so please go and check it out and see if it is right for you. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to the point where we are happy to reveal this course and the rest of the site to the World. I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me to make this happen as without all of these people there would be no platform for me to bore you with my holiday stories and no website ready to be accessed. I hope some of you reading this opt to enrol on the course and it is as rewarding for you as I firmly believe it will be. In addition to the course the rest of the site is now live and waiting for you to explore. We will be offering free content in the form of blogs and video content that will be shared regularly. For more information about those please visit our ‘About’ page where you will see what we have going on and some video previews of what we have to offer. For any additional information please go to our ‘Contact’ page and either leave us a message or send us an email. Lastly from me…Hello World, we are ready for you!