Understanding the Hierarchy of Schools, Institutes, and Sporting Bodies

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have experienced the schooling system in both the state and private systems. I’ve also had multiple relations throughout my employment with various institutes and sporting bodies.

As a sporting parent despite what you might think the commonality among them all- they have your child’s best interest at heart, and here’s why.

Schooling Systems

These are often the first point of contact your child will experience with athletic development/strength and conditioning. The beauty here is there is less pressure, the ability to ‘generalise’ is rarely questioned but for most part is one of the most positive influences on your child’s athletic development.

Whilst the schooling system is still very much in its infancy regarding athletic development (meaning not every school has the opportunity to have a gym) the tide is rapidly turning.

This is no longer a space for retired/washed up professional journeyman performance coaches to kick their heels up on a comfortable and most importantly stable retirement plan! This is a very influential space and schools are rapidly acknowledging their ‘niche’ and that hiring the right coach equipped with enthusiasm, a passion for youth, and enough experience in the development space to know what it takes to succeed.

The biggest challenge for those working in this space is twofold. Firstly, they are always the first to get ditched at the slightest sniff of success for your child. Secondly, the jersey more often than not isn’t strong enough for your adolescent to truly respect until later in life!

Not to mention the odd parent (not sporting parents like you), who will try and dictate their child’s needs because they are going to be ‘the next big thing!’ (I have been told this on more than one occasion!).

Embrace this time of exploration with your child, not only is it the most crucial but with a bit of success it may be the last time they can actually train/participate with their schooling friendship circle (now that’s winning right there!!!)


The reality is as with sporting organisations funding plays a big part. Not all sports are created equal (being some sports aren’t even on the radar at your state-based institute i.e. NSW, SA, VIC, WA, QLD institute/academy of sport etc.). Also, by equal I mean the face to face coaching contact your child/teen may receive. The greater funding of a particular sport, the better resourced and contact your child is likely to have.

Whilst you may disagree, and for parts of it I do too- this is purely financial so like taxes and our government unfortunately it is what it is! What I will say is depending on what school your child has come from this may be the first contact they experience with athletic performance and what it takes to accomplish athletic success.

With this being the case and your knowledge from the above passage- you now might start to further understand the importance of the schooling system. Because a student having trained at school even with little experience may have a training age of 2-3yrs whilst your child being recently selected to join their respective institute has one of 0yrs.

So yes there is a range of difference and this is particularly challenging for coaching staff at institutes as once again due to funding and challenging coach: athlete ratio’s available they are often grouped together under-valuing the previous school training experience/quality to ensure all the athletes train together… this is purely to lessen the burden on the coach.

… another factor to consider is whilst being selected for an institute shouldn’t be taken lightly and very much appreciated to get to their level, in your sport this may not be the viewed as the best pathway. I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Sporting Bodies

Whether it be the development pathways of a professional sporting team or the national sporting organisation for a particular sport… once again this comes down to funding. Having experienced both of them I will say, both are genuinely supportive in trying to get the best out of your child. The only hurdle is resources and a lack thereof.

I’ll show my age and state if I had a dollar for every time I heard a sporting parent say ‘It’s bloody (insert your favourite sporting club/national organisation here) surely they have enough for X, Y, or Z’ I certainly wouldn’t be coaching anymore!

…. The reality is they simply don’t, and like the above statement regarding taxes- well you get the drift.

One thing’s for certain the jersey in this instance will carry weight in your child’s friendship circles- you may even notice a bit more swagger in your son’s walk, or even an eye roll or two from Daddy’s little girl 

Unfortunately, due to limited funds (resulting in restricted coaching staff, and or time available to invest in each child specifically) and even more so during COVID-19, further supporting the example above your child in instances may be in a position whereby one or both being their schooling experience, and institute/state selection previously go unnoticed.

Did I mention money? This also may be your first exposure to the murky side of sport where your little baby is seen as a commodity and depending on their forecasted success… and by this I don’t mean a CEO parents but rather experienced talent scouts, dealings may take place. In certain suburbs around the country a new free pair of boots or the latest running shoes may just persuade little (enter the next big thing’s name here) judgement of who his/her favourite team is again ;).

Did I mention the importance of the schooling influence?... What? It’s free too you say! (Well in some instances or at least inclusive of regular schooling fees anyway).

The reality is, in the development stages sport and your child’s participation in it is paramount. The proportion of time you commit and encourage your child to focus on in a particular sport throughout the year is up to you. Armed with this knowledge and other resources I hope to help you make further informed decisions on this journey.

I’d love to hear from you about your child’s journey throughout their sporting endeavours. So please, feel free to join our Facebook group, and share your experiences or even this post- if you feel you know a parent likely to benefit! We’re all in this together!

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