I frequently consult with athlete development professionals regarding the challenges of their role. As I thought about this blog entry, I decided to ask some of them to share their thoughts.

The responses I received included a lack of buy-in from administrators, student-athletes and coaches; limited professional development opportunities; little access to decision-makers; minimal recognition; work/life imbalance and insufficient financial resources and staff. I concluded that the responses constituted one major challenge-a perceived lack of value of the athlete development position.

My experience working in college and professional sports showed me that athlete development professionals can successfully tackle many of their challenges by learning how to strategically demonstrate their value to their organizations. This can be done in several ways.

Sharing the positive impact of your work with other departments, collaborating with campus offices and publishing your program’s accomplishments can demonstrate success, help to build alliances and support and increase your visibility and potential for recognition and advancement. Including program metrics in your end of year report can provide rationale for a raise, promotion, professional development opportunities, an increased budget and staffing.

Positioning your department, internally and externally, to be the primary liaison for all athlete-related matters creates opportunities to deepen relationships with coaches, student-athletes and the community. Proactively identifying and creatively solving problems that could negatively impact the organization’s image showcases your leadership, conflict management and problem-solving abilities.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If so, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about any other challenges you are facing in your athlete development role. Contact us if we can be of assistance to you or your organization.

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