Athlete Development Hot Topics


If you work in athlete development at any level, summer is usually the time when you get a break. This is when most of us refresh, engage with colleagues and participate in professional development activities.

Professional development conferences I recommend attending are the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A), NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program (AASP), Athlete Development Summit (ADS) and the Alliance of Social Workers in Sports (ASWIS). At these events, the latest research and trends in the field of athlete development are discussed by leading academicians and practitioners. It’s also a great time for networking and identifying industry experts and resources that can support you and your program.

Participating in the aforementioned conferences and a review of the agendas this year prompted me to provide a list of the current athlete development hot topics. See the list below (no certain order) and share any topics you think are missing in the comments section. As you plan your education and development programming for this season, keep these topics in mind.

Contact us for a free, one-hour consultation if we can be of assistance to you. Our training services can help you to achieve your athlete programming and staff professional development goals.

Athlete Development Hot Topics

  1. Mental Health & Wellness
  2. Sexual Harassment & Violence
  3. Leadership: Activism & Social Responsibility
  4. Engaging Coaches
  5. Career Education, Development & Transition
  6. Measuring Program Effectiveness
  7. Generational & Cultural Communication
  8. Athletic Identity
  9. Utilizing Technology
  10. Managing Time Constraints

NEXT BLOG: Engaging Coaches in Athlete Development Initiatives

2 Responses

  1. Dr. Hilliard,

    Great post! In recent years, there have been a number of DI student-athletes and professional athletes going public about their struggles throughout their careers with mental illness. Have DPD’s been focusing more on ways to ensure overall positive mental wellness with their athletes? If there has been an increase in focus with this topic, how are DPD’s and staff implementing these practices?

    Kristin Judson
    Ohio University Sports Administration ’19

  2. Thanks for you comments Kristin. The NCAA Sport Science Institute has established Mental Health Best Practices. The NBA and National Basketball Players Association recently created a position to develop and implement mental wellness programs and services to its players. Temple University athletics created the first full time mental health specialist to work with its student-athletes. Other schools like Virginia Tech and Michigan have long designated resources, personnel and programming in place to address this topic.

    As you know, mental wellness has become a pretty big topic of late so more sports organizations are beefing up their athlete support services. Most programming is delivered through the student-athlete development departments at the college level. Some schools collaborate with support services office on campus, a strategy that I highly recommend. At the professional level, services are provided in a number of ways. It would be great if someone did an environmental scan though and published what’s going on out there in this area (need a masters thesis topic)? :-).

    One thing I would say is that it’s important to employ trained and certified mental health professionals to deliver these services. They have the appropriate education, training and experience to deal with these issues comprehensively and confidentially. Hope this helps!

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