Lessons in Athlete Lifestyles as TASS add two new courses to its education offer

Plans are in place to further develop TASS’s sector-leading education pathway following the positive rollout of two brand new courses focusing on athletes’ lifestyles. 

TASS is committed to shining a light on the unique challenges facing dual career athletes and to widening the debate around support inside and outside of sport. 

A dynamic e-learning module has been developed to enable those new to the dual career model to gain an insight into fast-evolving athlete lifestyles. 

The online course - Introduction to Lifestyle – has been developed alongside UK Coaching and is pitched at coaches, athletes, practitioners and parents keen to find out more about the provision of athlete support and its positive impact.

“It adds real flexibility to our education offering,” explained Karen McLoughlin, TASS National Lead (Administration & Events). 

“It’s self-guided learning and we’re confident those undertaking the course will gain a basic understanding of the key concepts and be able to click their way towards a greater appreciation of athlete lifestyle!” 

For those interested in a more in-depth look at the athlete lifestyle, TASS has also added a new level 2 course to its suite of education pathway resources. 

Understanding an Athlete’s Lifestyle was piloted in May and immediately struck a chord with learners keen to gain a broader picture of a key talking point in the dual career conversation. 

The two-day course, developed with support from 1st4sport, is designed to upskill those working with athletes, and Emma Vickers, TASS National Lead (Research) explained: “It’s also about asking people to reflect on what they can do within their roles to support these athletes. 

“The Understanding an Athlete’s Lifestyle award has been designed for anyone working directly or indirectly with athletes. 

“We welcomed coaches, performance sport managers, talent pathway/NGB staff and practitioners to take part in the pilot and the feedback was hugely encouraging.” 

Learners from a wide variety of sport roles were asked to reflect on the pilot course which was delivered entirely online. 

Feedback will help to shape future delivery and allow Emma and her colleagues the opportunity to develop more effective e-learning and in-person versions. 

One learner told TASS: “I enjoyed the course and would look for the next step up to stretch my knowledge further. 

“The pilot was well organised and well delivered. Having two tutors was really good to mix up the delivery.” 

Another attendee added: “The delivery schedule was well planned out with lots of breaks. “The content was relevant and interesting. It was great that it was delivered online and it was lovely to network and mix with others in different roles.” 

Emma was joined by TASS colleagues Karen McLoughlin, Grace Harrison and Emily Cartigny in delivering the Understanding an Athlete’s Lifestyle course. 

And the dual tutor approach to each session was highlighted as key to the overall success of the online delivery. 

Expressions of interest were sought earlier this year and within hours the pilot was fully booked. 

“There was a wide variety of people from different backgrounds on the pilot course and that’s exactly what we wanted,” explained Emma. 

“We had key people from NGBs and colleges as well as coaches, sports psychologists and athletes.  

“There were professionals from professional Olympic and Paralympic backgrounds and it’s important that we work with as broad a spectrum as possible.  

“Bringing people together from different areas and encouraging them to share their experiences is what we’re all about — that can only help us to positively shape our courses in the future.” 

Karen added: “We were looking to get as much feedback as possible from the pilot course and I think the test group recognised that. Their contribution has been fantastic so far.” 

The two-day level 2 course is as collaborative as it’s informative. Emma and Karen encouraged learners to look at how they can apply key concepts underpinning athlete lifestyle to their own environments. At the same time, those attending the course were asked to question their own approach to a key area of the dual career journey. 

“We recognised the fact that there was a gap in learning,” explained Emma. “There are people working within sport who don’t necessarily want to be lifestyle practitioners but in their roles it’s important that they understand what the athletes around them are going through and that they recognise the challenges those young people face.  

“We introduced a ‘reflection log’ to the pilot course — we’re constantly asking the learners questions and encouraging them to reflect on how they might use best practice in their own environments.” 

The level 2 course focuses on various different aspects of an athlete’s lifestyle. These include: 

  • Sporting landscapes — what different organisations look like, the types of support on offer, who athletes interact with (directly and indirectly) and how the landscape changes during an athlete’s career journey
  • Dual career approaches — the different options available to athletes, why they choose different routes and why certain barriers can prevent athletes from realising their potential
  • Athlete planning and transferable skills — how athletes can use these skills to progress in future careers
  • Athlete support networks — who sits in those networks, how do the networks interact and what’s the role of the sport professional in an athlete’s support network 
  • Athlete transitions — what is a transition, different types of transitions and a focus on specific transitions including academy to senior team/college to university/full-time sport to retirement. Case studies are used to help learners understand how the athlete can best prepare for the challenges ahead.

“We hope the learners will come away from the level 2 course with a greater understanding of athlete lifestyles but also a greater appreciation of how their role fits into the wider picture,” added Karen.  

“These people are often part of larger multi-disciplinary teams but they’re interacting with colleagues and athletes on a daily basis. Recognising how everything fits together for the benefit of the athlete can only be a positive thing.” 

TASS is working towards relaunching in-person learning at the end of the summer with a more detailed examination of the ever-changing athlete lifestyle picture. 

“Ultimately, we’ll be launching a level 3 Understanding Athlete Transitions course,” explained Emma. “We’re hoping to deliver the pilot course at the end of the summer and this will be a four-day course. We’re hoping to deliver it in person but there’s provision in place to deliver the course online. More information on this course will be released shortly.” 

For more information 

To start the eLearning module ‘Introduction to Lifestyle Support’ click here 

To find out more about Level 2 ‘Understanding an Athlete’s Lifestyle’ and the TASS education pathway click here

If you have any queries about the TASS Education Pathway, please contact  learning@tass.gov.uk