The Path to Excellence was a study undertaken by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in an attempt to describe and understand the factors that contributed to the development of U.S. Olympians (1). This study presents a number of practical findings relevant to athlete development and talent identification that are along similar lines to those being investigated in the Pathways to the Podium Research Project.
816 male and female Olympians were recruited to participate in this study; all of whom competed in either the Summer or Winter Olympic Games between the years 1984 to 1998. All athletes completed a detailed questionnaire regarding the history of their involvement in sport, and their experiences throughout their journey to the Olympics. Some of the main findings that I found particularly interesting and applicable to coaching and athlete development are outlined below.
The Important Qualities of a Coach
What do athletes look for in a coach? The Olympians were asked to identify and rank the characteristics they value most in a coach. Here are the results: