Levels of Sport Performance

Ethan Oswald

Performance Pyramid

The four levels of sporting performance are, In order, foundation, participation, performance and elite.

Foundation- This is when we are first introduced to a sport. Basic skills and key points of the sports are taught along with rules and regulations of the sport.

Participation- This is basically Sunday league or amateur performance. Competitive leagues however still done as fun/hobby.

Performance- This is county or national level. It requires some level of scouting and identification to reach this level as it is higher and more competitive than the previous.

Elite- This is the highest level which refers to Olympic and international competitors. These people do it as a job and fun becomes a secondary emotion toward the sport.

The two levels I will be comparing are Foundation and elite.


'Sport does not build character, it reveals it ' - John Wooden
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Analysis of performance is basically gathering data of an individuals ability in a certain sport or a certain area of sport. There are methods of gathering this information, some that apply to foundation, some that apply to elite and some that apply to both.

Talent Identification- In foundation level, despite it being non-competitive, talent identification can be used to pick out those with a high natural talent of the sport in hand. When these young and gifted kids are identified as so, a method we can use is to test these people in different aspects of the sport and compare the results to current elite athletes results when they where of this age. This should give us an idea of the level of talent in hand. For example a young player at this level who shows promise in a certin position, such as centre midfield, will be tested and the results compared to a proffessional of that position like Gerrard when he was a foundation level player. This should decide how much potential we can expect from this player in the future.

I believe this to be the only purpose of analysing performance of the four I have chosen that can be applied to the foundation level of performance.


Facilities- The venue, in which the sessions include participants of a foundation level, will tend to be basic sports halls or fields with multi-uses to save space. Usually these facilities will be provided by a school, college or leisure centre, as these buildings usually are behind the process of introducing kids into new sports. These facilities, in relation to analysis of performancewould not provide things like stands to sit and observe from but they will have small standing areas at the sides of the pitch for the coach to try and view everyone at one time which is not an easy task.

Equipment- The equipment used in these sessions is likely to be simple lack a certain degree of accuracy. If you where to test speed, you would probably have a stopwatch and cones to do so. This leaves room for human error thus inaccurate results. If you are playing an invasion sport such as football or basketball the balls are likely to be well used and the goals/baskets could show signs of where and tear as they are likely to be open to public use outside of the session. Analysing performance will be written on pads and paper which can be lost or destroyed. The balls or stimulus used will be second rate, not padded etc. which will hinder the likliehood of someone performing to their full potential and therefore make the analytical results unreliable.

Fiscal- Money in foundation level is few and far between. Participants parents usually pay for each session and whoever takes the session has to pay for venue and equipment with these payments. There is no real funding for this level of performance so its payed for as it goes on, it is fairly cheap so usually the participants payments cover the cost and there is no wages to pay. Referring to the earlier equipment section the cost of the equipment in foundation is cheap. Becasue of its simplicity, the cost of things like balls, stopwatches and cones etc. are considerably low in cost as they have little advanced technology to them. Overall the cost of the sessions and equipment is relatively in foundation level because everything is basic and non-funded so the money cost for thesessions must be low enough for those running the sessions to afford through however much they charge for the session itself.


'If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.' - Herschel Walker
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Monitoring current fitness levels- When competing in professional sport for fans, points, money and as a job it is important that you are on top of your game at all times. This is because lack of fitness will result in poor performance which can't be afforded by clubs of this level. In order to ensure that fitness levels are up to a satisfactory standard, elite athletes are tested regularly in various aspects of fitness. Foundation level does not require such testing as it is not a competitive environment.

Recovery after injury- When an elite athlete is injured it can leave the team they compete for a big problem, especially if they are a main impact player in the squad. Despite wanting the player to return as quickly as possible a manager would want to ensure that the player comes back as strong as they left and also make sure they are not susceptible to aggravating the injured body part. To ensure the above we can analyse recovery from injury. This involves regular checks on the injury and increasingly intense workouts which the injured participant will usually be asked to give a comfort rating as to how much pain the injury is causing them. Using this we try to avoid extending the injury by rushing the player into a premature return. An example of this could be Arsenal's Theo Walcott who faced a fairly bad injury then when returned took only a couple of matches before causing the injury to re-occur and this time he faces missing the summer World Cup. Perhaps Arsenal failed to analyse Walcott's injury enough and allowed him to compete prematurely.

Informed goal setting- As an elite level athlete competing and training day after day it is important to maintain that drive to win and train hard. In order to keep motivation levels high we analyse performance to set 'SMART' targets. These targets are specifically designed to ensure they are attainable in the time allocated. An example of a goal that we could set for a striker could be for them to score 5 goals in the next 8 games, we would set this based on current form of the striker because if the goal is unobtainable the desired effect will be reversed and the athlete is likely to lose motivation and determination. This will lead to a sudden decrease od performance level.


Equipment- In the equipment category is where we see one of the biggest contrasts between the too levels in comparison. As said earlier equipment for foundation level is simple and inexpensive, however elite equipment is quite the contrary. When testing speed of an elite athlete we would use timing gates as a replacement of the stopwatch. Timing gates reduce any element of human error and record to a hundredth of a second from when the gates are passed through. To test power of an elite athlete we would use a Wingate cycle as oppose to a Vertical jump mat, again this eliminates human error and records a lot more accurately. In relation to Analysis of Performance, the equipment would also be more high tec'. They have IT software to help re-assess someone after video evidence had been taken, using this software they can do things like check kicking angles so that your technique when striking the ball is perfect.

Time- Trained professionals are employed to analyse players in game performances and spend a lot of time after the game gathering and comparing the results of each individual to on another and to the individuals previous games. The time spent by these people analysing the in game statistics is therefore used to establish any underperformers and any people who excelled. If they establish that a player only had a passing completion percentage of 40% the coaching staff would most likely devise an intervention strategy in the form of successive passing drills in order to improve on this weakness. Foundation level therefore does not have people who take time to evaluate performance. It is unnecessary at such an uncompetitive level.

Facilities- In elite level the facilities are 'state of the art' or 'gold standard'. The sports halls used by elite athletes will be temperature controlled rooms, usually the hall would be one sport as oppose to multi-use, and there would be seating areas where crowds can watch on any competitive based game that could occur within. These seating areas are also a good place fro people too analyse an individuals performance from because you can focus on on eperson without having to look through the othe players on the pitch or court. Often these facilities are not open to the public until after a major event like the olympics for example. The halls or pitches will also be fitted most likely with 360 degree cameras from which we can gather analytical data after the game.

Fiscal- Funding is important in elite level performance because equipment and wages are expensive. Elite level is funded by government and sponsorships. Cristiano Ronaldo for example is sponsored by Nike and Stephen Curry (shown below) is now sponsored by 'UnderAromour'. This helps to fund the cost of the facilities and equipment as well as extra endorsement money for the athlete themselves. Very contrasting to foundation. The amount of money pumped into anaylsing performance is massive, we analyse individuals so that we can give feedback and improve them, therefore it is belived to be neccessary to spend vast amounts of money into improving the elite performers. The state of the art equipment and facilities are not cheap at all. A wingate bike on average cost about £3,000 and this is one of the simplest pieces of equipment in an elite gym to give a rough idea. So the accumulated cost of anayling the performance of numerous elite athlete is very high.