Back to top


Image of sport pathway progression - infant to retiree


The NSW Office of Sport through its Pathways section provides guidance and ongoing support specific to best practice participant and athlete development to a broad range of sporting organisations and stakeholders including:

  • State Sporting Organisations
  • National Sporting Organisations
  • NSW Institute of Sport
  • NSW Regional Academies of Sport
  • Sport NSW
  • NSW School network including Sporting High Schools
  • NSW University network
  • NSW Club network
  • Participants, Athletes and their Parents and Coaches.  

Areas of engagement include:

Facilitating the review, refinement and communication of a sport’s pathway and related operations (fit of strategy, programs and products) inclusive of its -

  • Foundational (Participation engagement strategies, products and programs)
  • Talent (talent selection, development and transition of pre-elite athletes)
  • Elite and Mastery (High Performance) components

Delivery of education workshops for athletes, coaches and parents
Facilitation of networking events for pathway stakeholders
Aligned research activities

FTEM NSW Participant and Athlete Development Framework

The FTEM NSW framework developed by the NSW Office of Sport, is directly informing and supporting current policy, strategy, practice and delivery within the NSW sport sector including the Future Champions – Pathways to Sporting Success strategy addressing the Talent Levels of FTEM NSW.

FTEM NSW is an integrated and progressive framework and systems approach:

  • empowering the participants and athletes of NSW and supporting them through their life-long journey in sport and physical activity
  • supporting stakeholders (parents, coaches, volunteers, schools, universities, clubs, sporting organisations and providers etc.) by providing best-practice guidelines for each level of the developmental continuum from the grass roots to podium.


Future Champions FTEM participant infographic.png


Background of FTEM NSW

  • Adapted from the original FTEM Athlete Development Framework (Gulbin, Croser, Morley & Weissensteiner, 2013) which is utilized extensively by the Australian Institute of Sport, Sport Australia and majority of National Sporting Organisations and recognised and featured within the International Olympic Committee's consensus statement on Youth Athlete Development (Bergeron et al., 2015) and the recently published NBA and Youth Basketball Participation guidelines (DiFiori et al., 2018)
  • Informed by international best practice and accumulated practical learnings from within the NSW and National sector including the perspectives and experiences of participants, athletes and coaches.

Key Features of FTEM NSW

  • Presents a ‘chronology’ of eleven integrated and progressive developmental levels spanning the lifespan and inclusive of all physical activity outcomes - Active Lifestyle pursuits, Social, Recreational and High-Performance sport.
  • Provides a logical blueprint ensuring the right fit and progression of strategy, programs and support for participants no matter what level they are at.
  • Rather than solely predicated on chronological age, advocates a best practice approach to maximising development and progression.
  • Is inclusive catering for all participants no matter their motivation and goal, life-stage, capability or capacity.
  • Is holistic in its coverage at each level (i.e., interaction of individual, environmental & system factors) through its integration of the 3D-AD (Three-Dimensional Athlete Development) model (Gulbin & Weissensteiner, 2013)
  • Highlights the critical importance of developing early movement foundations and physical literacy to support positive engagement in physical activity through the life stages.
  • Is aligned with and facilitates the implementation of, Sport Australia’s Physical Literacy Framework (see
  • Provides a logical and progressive approach to support the effective selection, development and transition of emerging athletes.
  • Is flexible in application catering for individual variability
  • Provides a common language for all stakeholders
  • Includes imagery that is inclusive and representative of the participants and athletes of NSW and features sporting ambassadors Olympian Jessica Fox and Paralympian Madison de Rozario

Related information

FTEM NSW Informational Flyer

Athlete Pathways and Development - Clearinghouse for Sport

Top Ten Tips for Parents - AIS

SPORTAUS Physical Literacy Framework

IOC Consensus Statement on Youth Athlete Development