Sporting Excellence Professional

Occupational overview

Sporting Excellence Professionals developed via this apprenticeship are competent to perform consistently and effectively in training environments and competitions in relation to one of the following professional sports: cricket, football, rugby league and rugby union. As such, they are part of a playing team supported and managed by a wider and multi-disciplinary team including a manager/coach, skills coaches, physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionist, strength and conditioning experts, and educational staff etc.  They have high level of autonomy in terms of responsibility for what happens on the field of play and need to be able to cope with extreme pressure.

PLEASE NOTE: Although the Sporting Excellence Professional standard covers four professional sporting roles (footballer, cricketer, rugby league player and rugby union player), at present, the apprenticeship standard is only approved for delivery for the footballer role,pending development of the required technical specifications for the other roles.


  • Use digital technology to refine and optimise performance in terms of tactical approach to the opposition, understanding opposition teams’ strengths and weaknesses, creating individual tactical plans and reviewing performance post game.
  • Use data and digital insight to improve performance of their skills and performance.
  • Continually improve physical capabilities by utilising insight and expertise from specialist support staff through completing bespoke conditioning activities such as speed, power and coordination, as well as on and off field training programmes that might take place in the gymnasium, swimming pool or performance lab.
  • Engage in injury prevention and management programmes utilising insight and expertise from specialist support staff to help mitigate impact of injury on training and competition performance.
  • Apply safe practice principles across all elements of training, preparation and competition - for example when working with equipment, working alone, working under pressure, or travelling abroad.
  • Take appropriate action in sourcing relevant information for pre and post testing; and at all times, be able to access a current list of prohibited and banned substances.
  • Implement a programme to improve diet and approach to hydration and nutrition, incorporating feedback and evaluation from specialist support staff.
  • Profile psychological strengths and weaknesses and implement their agreed programme to meet individual and sporting requirements.
  • Apply consistent and effective psychological and emotional skills in training and performance or competition environments.
  • Plan, implement and develop personal leadership skills both in and away from their professional playing career.
  • Communicate and build meaningful relationships with staff, colleagues and peers.
  • Effectively manage conflicts and present a positive image of them self, their organisation and their sport in all situations.
  • Identify and engage with an off-field personal action plan to improve lifestyle management that promotes and develops mental wellbeing and emotional health.
  • Design and implement a personal careers action plan that identifies how they will manage their transition into the next stage considering secondary and supplementary careers.
  • Deliver consistent performance under pressure through effective integration of all disciplines.
  • Review performance and training to analyse, progress and improve performance in both training and competition.


Tactical and Technical Performance

  • How to utilise Multi-Disciplinary staff to improve tactical performance, addressing individual weaknesses through training and competition - using reflection and evaluation to set agreed targets for individual action plans.
  • How to use technology such as video footage or software packages to interpret and compare different forms of analysis.
  • How to use this analysis to evaluate both technical and tactical performance and impact on results during training and competition.

Physical Performance – development of physical capabilities to apply in a performance environment

  • The physical requirements such as cardiovascular fitness, explosive power, stamina of professional sport; principles of training (including periodisation), specificity and methods (e.g. strength and conditioning, fundamental movement, physical literacy) used to develop physical capabilities.

Injury and risk management

  • The common types of injury (e.g. soft tissue damage) relevant to professional sport; how to prevent, recover, rehabilitate from and manage injury; plus the physiological and psychological responses to injury.

Effective, Safe and Inclusive Practice

  • Safe and effective practice in sports performance environments, and how to access appropriate support networks for any areas of concern or individual wellbeing – individually and on behalf of colleagues.
  • The importance of equality, inclusion and diversity across society and professional sport.


  • The legislation and guidance with regards to Anti-Doping including the negative impacts and side effects of using performance enhancing or recreational drugs on personal performance, career and the reputation of the sport.

Nutritional performance

  • The importance of nutrition to help achieve excellence in professional sport.

Psychological and emotional performance - The ability to cope with the psychological demands of a sport in order to perform at an optimum level

  • The psychological and emotional demands of professional sport and how to make the best use of these capabilities.
  • The methods and strategies that relate to fundamental, preparatory and performance phases such as emotional resilience, visualisation, refocussing, concentration and pre-performance routines.
  • The demands of effective leadership in professional sport, identifying traits and behaviours of appropriate role models


The mechanics of:

  • effective communication (personal and professional);
  • building and sustaining relationships with other people;

Lifestyle and personal development

  • The importance of lifestyle management factors relevant to being a professional sports person such as finance and a responsible social media presence.

Career and self-development

  • The components (e.g. goal setting, planning) that contribute to their chosen primary career plan, and the key facets of self-identity as a professional sports person and as an individual.
  • The importance of secondary and supplementary careers and consideration of dual career aspirations.

Integrated approach to performance - the active  combination of all disciplines that contribute equally to achieve high performance

  • The influence and impact of each performance area on each other and how they interact.
  • How to self-evaluate, utilise feedback from staff, use goal setting processes and development plans.


  • positively model professionalism through personal presentation and integrity in all actions;
  • be collaborative in teamwork situations - especially under pressure;
  • self-manage weekly commitments which include time management, organisation;
  • conduct themselves in a respectful, fair and approachable manner;
  • has a strong, positive and dedicated work ethic which clearly shows ownership of personal development, aptitude, aspiration and ambition;
  • be self-reflective;
  • own and engage in goal setting processes;
  • exhibiting inclusive behaviours recognising equality and diversity.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements and will need to be registered with the National Governing Body and/or Leagues relevant to the professional player pathway for their sport to ensure they are able to provide the right environment in which to successfully develop Sporting Excellence Professionals.

Apprentices without Level 2 English and Maths will need to achieve this prior to taking the end point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan, or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and Maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. British Sign Language qualifications are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.


18-24 Months.

Professional qualifications

This is a level 3 apprenticeship.

Originally published on, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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