This tool assists to convey key principles of dual career. By using the tool, talented athletes are provided with topical facts, little helpful techniques and role model inspiration to proactively support their pursuit of sporting and educational goals early on.
The journey of talented athletes is full of change and challenge. A multitude of manifold transitions at a young age represents modern performance pathways. High-level demands of competitive sport make it difficult to reconcile athletic, educational and private spheres of life. For talented athletes, anticipating the upcoming dual career journey, understanding its characteristics from the beginning on, and equipping themselves with first helping methods are crucial for goal achievement and personal well-being.
This is where the tool Introducing DC comes into play. The tool is an introductory training for talented athletes at early stages of their dual career. Built around the story of a mountain hike, an interactive workshop assists them to learn about, reflect upon and discuss fundamental aspects of dual career. Helping talented athletes comprehend the nature of their mission and providing them with small self-applicable methods are central elements of this tool.
Follow the instructions to apply this tool and browse our manifold resources to find out more about the addressed topic.
The Journey (pptx) is a workshop design to help introduce the complex topic of dual career to talented athletes. The workshop is intended to be implemented in a group setting (e.g., sport school class, youth team, etc.) within 2-3 consecutive teaching units. Alternatively, its parts may also be split and taught in the form of individual sessions. Hereby, more emphasis could potentially be put on each presented aspect. If you prefer even smaller-sized interventions, you can also solely focus on single items of the provided aspects, resources or methods.
The video Do you know Dual Career? (mov) produced by STARTING 11 constitutes the introductive element of the workshop. The educational video contains a multitude of facts about dual career. It also presents the main content parts of the workshop: “Planning”, “Balance”, and “Support Network”. These parts are each introduced by an inspirational athlete video or quote, followed by a group discussion of the given input. As a conclusion of each part, an easily applicable technique is provided, together with a central take away-message. Although the video is integrated into the workshop design, it is also conceivable to use the video as a stand-alone for educational or promotional purposes in different dual career contexts.
Part 1: Do you know Dual Career?
- Make yourself familiar with the slides and storytelling of The Journey (pptx). (Install the free Google Font Poppins to display the presentation correctly and adapt the slides.)
- Open the workshop by explaining its main idea to the athletes: The story visualizes the dual career journey of an athlete as a mountain hike. The start at the foot of the mountain symbolizes the beginning of a dual career. Following, the hiker slowly makes their way up to the top of the mountain. Each part of the journey is accompanied by relevant facts and figures related to the different stages in a dual career.
- Play the video Do you know Dual Career? (mov). Let the talented athletes reflect on the statements and facts that were presented to them. Briefly discuss in the group those aspects that were most relevant to them. The following questions can facilitate the discussion: What was important to you? What was surprising? What is one key fact that you still remember? What is your personal take away from the video?
- Make clear which sections of the journey the workshop will focus on; typically, school education alongside an athletic career on talent level. Present the corresponding key message of the introduction: “The success of a dual career depends on planning, balance and a strong support network.” Help the talented athlete imagine these 3 factors as their essential hiking gear. The better their equipment, the better their chances to be successful in their dual career. The workshop will subsequently focus on each of these three key factors.
Part 2: Hiking Gear “Planning”
- This part of the workshop focuses on the dual career skill of effective planning. Introduce the topic of planning by explaining its relevance for a dual career.
- Show the embedded video of Alexander Leichter who talks about the main challenges he faced in his dual career as well as refers to planning as an essential skill to deal with these challenges. Let the group reflect on what the most important tips of Alexander are to optimally manage a dual career. The following key points mentioned by Alexander can support your discussion: discipline and ambition, balancing peak times, planning ahead (short-, mid- and long-term), proactive behaviour, flexibility. Feel free to let the athletes exchange about their own experience as well, especially if they have already been on a dual career pathway for some time prior to the workshop.
- Explain the planning method “The Frog Agent” (see details below). Assist the talented athletes to try out this method themselves. Within 10 minutes, let the athletes individually work out their ABC tasks regarding a commonly chosen objective that is relevant to the entire group (e.g., passing a certain upcoming exam). The shown example of a filled-in ABC grid can facilitate the exercise. Subsequently, discuss the results in the group.
- Present Take Away 1.
Planning method: The Frog Agent
There is no universal truth to planning that works for everyone. In fact, it is important that each athlete plans in a way that suits them. In any case, they need to optimize their own schedule regarding school, training, competition and personal commitments. To reach high goals and keep sport and education on track, learning to plan ahead as well as to distinguish between important and less important turns out crucial.
The Frog Agent helps talented athletes identify and prioritise daily tasks that need to be fulfilled to reach certain short-term objectives (ABC tasks). In accordance with the central idea of “eating the frog”, the most important and annoying tasks should be done first. Thereby, The Frog Agent assists talented athletes to avoid to accumulate stress and overload.
- What I must do today! A-tasks are the most important tasks for that day. On the one hand they are those that you have to complete by the next day in any case, on the other hand they are those tasks that directly bring you closer to your goals.
- What I should do today! B-tasks follow the A-tasks in their importance, but do not necessarily have to be completed on the same day.
- What I could do today as well! C-tasks are of less or no importance regarding the defined objective. C-tasks can be done when there is time and energy left after fulfilling the A- and B-tasks or if these tasks substantially are of value to the well-being of talented athletes (e.g., fun tasks).
Part 3: Hiking Gear “Balance”
- This part of the workshop focuses on the dual career skill of maintaing balance. Introduce the topic of balance by explaining its relevance for a dual career.
- Show the video of Gianluigi Buffon who talks about the importance of simple things in a high-performance lifestyle. Let the group reflect on what the most important tips of Gianluigi are to maintain balance, motivation and happiness in an athletic career. The following key points mentioned by Gianluigi can support your discussion: normality, alternative incentives, new impulses to the brain, creativity and personal expression, things that make you feel alive. Let the athletes draw from their own experience as well and ask whether they have already lived similar experiences.
- Explain the method “The Jar of Little Things” (see details below). By showing the real-life example of such a jar, assist the talented athletes to try out this method themselves. Within 10 minutes, let the athletes individually identify their very own little precious things. Potentially, discuss the results in the group.
- Present Take Away 2. To foster application, you could optionally provide each athlete with a glass jar that they can take home and fill.
Balance method: The Jar of Little Things
Truth be told, talented athletes do not have a lot of time alongside their intensive duties; as an athlete and as a pupil. In comparison to their non-athlete-peers, private time is limited. In this regard, upgrading this time with personally meaningful activities becomes particularly important when it comes to balance, recovery and mental health.
The Jar of Little Things is an easy-to-apply exercise. The athletes write little activities, memories or things that make them happy or feel good about themselves on small pieces of paper. These pieces can continuously be collected in a container, like a glass jar. Alongside their performance-driven and time-consuming lifestyle, athletes should make a habit to actively reward themselves with meaningful moments, whenever they feel like it or have the chance to. In accordance with hiking gear 1 (Planning), it can be useful to plan and reserve personal times during the week to actively realize one of the activities kept in their jar.
Part 4: Hiking Gear “Support Network”
- This part of the workshop focuses on the dual career skill of being aware of and make use of one’s social support network.Introduce the topic of support by explaining its relevance for a dual career.
- Show the quote of Goldie Sayers who talks about her deep gratitude for her dual career support network. Let the group reflect on the quote of Goldie and the role of a strong support network in an athletic career. The following key points can support your discussion: emotional support, functional/technical support, decision-making, career transition, setbacks, weakness vs. strength. Let the athletes remember moments when received support has made a big difference for them.
- Explain the method “The Network Spinner” (see details below). Assist the talented athletes to try out this method themselves. Within 10 minutes, let the athletes draw a (fidget) spinner on a piece of paper and individually identify the most powerful supporters in their life. Potentially, discuss the results in the group.
- Present take away 3.
Support Network method: The Network Spinner
Support provided from coaches, parents and peers in sport has been identified as an important resource for athletes, being linked with recovery from injury, youth sport participation, burnout, self-confidence or performance. Talented athletes may not appreciate their support network initially, but they will recognize the value of the support around them as they gain more experience and become more independent in various environments.
The Network Spinner is a method to help speed up this process. The centre of the spinner represents the individual dual career athlete, surrounded by potential supporters. Different members in an athlete’s network can provide different types of support, spanning the 3 main areas of private, sporting and educational life. Answering the following key questions assist talented athletes to make their support network spin: Who is particularly important to my well-being and dual career performance in each of these 3 areas? What are the concrete things and situations they can help me with/in? What do I have to do to proactively acquire this support? How can synergies between the 3 areas of support be established?
Part 5: Wrap up
- Identify the main findings of the workshop as a group. End with the final take away as shown in The Journey (pptx).
- Believe Perform (2018): The young athlete’s journey – Transitions in youth sport
- Believe Perform (2020): Social support in youth sport
- European Commission (2018): Key competences for lifelong learning
- Gold in Education and Elite Sport (2017): Handbook for Dual Career Support Providers
- Bianco, T., & Eklund, R. (2010): Conceptual Considerations for Social Support Research in Sport and Exercise Settings: The Case of Sport Injury. In: Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 23(2):85-107
- Henriksen, K. (2010): The ecology of talent development in sport: A multiple case study of successfil athletic talent development environments in Scandinavia
- Holt, N.L., & Hoar, S.D. (2006): The Multidimensional Construct of Social Support. In: Hanton, S., & Mellalieu, S.D. (Eds.): Literature Review in Sport Psychology
- Rees, T. (2007): Stressors, social support, and effects upon performance in golf. In: Journal of Sports Sciences 25(1):33-42
- Reichel, T. (2017): Bachelor of Time – Zeitmanagement im Studium
- Tracy, B. (2017): Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Audio engineering for the video Do you know Dual Career? (mov) by Austrian football player Felix Strauss.
Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com
The tool "Introducing DC" in action: See real-life examples of its application in EU dual career practice.