The ahead program: Rationale, logic model, and description of a personal development intervention for high-performance athletes


Personal development can help high-performance athletes successfully deal with career transitions as well as personal and performance challenges throughout their careers (Devaney et al., 2018; Harwood & Johnston, 2016; Larsen et al., 2013). However, promoting personal development is an ongoing challenge in high-performance sport as many athletes feel their personal development needs are not sufficiently addressed (Gledhill & Harwood, 2019; Mills et al., 2014). Meeting long-standing calls to focus more on athletes' personal development, the AHEAD program was developed in partnership with high-performance sport environments in the sports of biathlon and cross-country skiing. This study describes the rationale, logic model, and content of the AHEAD program using the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR; Hoffman et al., 2014) checklist and guide. Qualitative description methodology informed the study (Sandelowski, 2000, 2010). Focus group interviews and expert consultations was conducted with athletes, coaches, and technical leaders via Zoom to tailor and refine the AHEAD program. Data was analyzed using an abductive content analysis (Elo & Kyngäs, 2008) procedure, using the TIDieR 12-item checklist as a guide for the analysis. AHEAD is a strengths-based intervention for high-performance athletes aged 18-23 years that aims to develop athletes' knowledge and skills related to personal development by improving five specific strategies to promote their development process. The potential impacts of the AHEAD program include athletes improving their strategies to work on the personal development process, both within the high-performance sport environment and across other life contexts.

Acknowledgments: During this study, the first author was supported by the PhD Students and Early Career Academics Research Grant Program 2021 from the The Olympic Studies Centre.