Foundations | Talent | Elite | Mastery - Pathways
We all participate in sport for many different reasons:
- some are interested in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle;
- others love the thrill of competing with their friends; and
- a rare few set their sights on winning medals for their country.
Whatever the motivation, we are on a pathway, although sometimes the pathway chooses us.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has developed the Foundations, Talent, Elite and Mastery framework (FTEM framework) to capture these different pathways.
FTEM integrates three key outcomes of sport participation:
- active lifestyle;
- sport participation; and
- sport excellence.
By categorising the key features of a sportsperson or athlete within each of these pathways, we can encapsulate the relevant research and expectations of athletes throughout their sporting journey.
It also provides practical methods to assist sport stakeholders managing an athlete's career and those who work in developing sport systems.
This enhanced understanding of sporting pathways will help us to improve the experiences of more people, at more levels of the pathway, more often.
Who can use the FTEM framework?
The FTEM framework is a practical planning and review tool for a broad range of sporting stakeholders including:
- sports science and sports medicine personnel and
- national and state sporting organisations.
Underpinning all of this love for sport and physical activity is physical literacy - a key element to any child's development with sport.
We all participate in sport, but for many
different reasons. Participation in sport
can lead to three key outcomes.
Whatever the motivation, the Australian Institute
of Sport wanted to show how these three different
pathways work together. After all, having
an active, healthy lifestyle or playing sport
for sport’s sake is just as important as
becoming a high performance sportsperson.
Using insights from the last 30 years, the
AIS came up with a new, inclusive sports framework
Foundations, Talent, Elite and Mastery.
Each describes the major phases of athlete
The FTEM framework will help us ensure that
sportspeople get the right support, at the
right time to get the right outcomes.
The FTEM framework has up to 10 phases – starting
with early movement experiences.
When we are young we learn the basics of movement.
Through more challenging movement environments
and good quality physical education we can
advance our repertoire of movement skills.
Together, these important foundations help
us to pursue and engage in an active lifestyle.
At the third phase, we commit to developing
our sports skills through sports specific
training and competition. This typically occurs
within sporting clubs, and many of us happily
stay within this sports participation pathway.
T1 is the entry point for the high performance
pathway for those promising talents who demonstrate
physical, psychological and movement potential.
At the T2 level, experienced coaches with
a discerning ‘eye’ for talent, further
assess attributes such as ‘coachability’,
determination and positive self-management
to verify future sporting potential.
Athletes at the T3 level are committed to
achieving higher levels of sports performance
through focussed practice and training.
At this stage, holistic athlete support is
critical to reduce dropout and underachievement.
As they move through the pathway to T4, athletes
reach a significant breakthrough performance
and are rewarded for their efforts.
At E1, athletes achieve elite status through
selection and representation at the highest
senior levels of international or professional
At E2, athletes win medals at the biggest
events, or in the case of professional sports,
dominate their sport week in, week out.
A few rare athletes achieve sports Mastery
— the most advanced example of sporting
excellence, characterised by sustained success
over multiple high performance cycles.
Optimising your understanding of athlete pathways
using the FTEM framework, will improve and
enrich your pathway outcomes.
For more information on FTEM, go to our website:
Hear our Top 10 Tips for Parents podcasts to help nurture and support your child’s foundational sporting development.
For those wanting more information about the rationale and research behind FTEM, head to the Top 10 tips for parents page or the Athlete Pathways & Development portfolio located within the Clearinghouse for Sport.