Aims and Objectives

The Brave Academy is an additional tier in the talent pathway between District and International levels. The purpose of the Academy is to build on good work already being done across the country in Schools, Clubs and Districts, to provide additional support to our talented emerging and aspiring hockey players, and to help them develop the tools and skills they need to bridge the gap between domestic and international hockey.

To do this, the Brave Academy will provide a combination of training and competitive opportunities on the pitch, along with support off the pitch in areas such as nutrition & hydration, sports psychology, and strength & conditioning. This will help increase the number of players capable of making the step to international hockey. Players in the Brave Academy will benefit from over 50 hours quality contact time on and off the pitch.

The Brave Academy will be regionalised, with three Academy Centres initially located in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is done principally to minimise travelling and time demands for players, at what is a very busy time for young people and their families. This also means we can provide opportunities for more players, while still maintaining good quality training environments. For boys and girls at each Centre, there will be two Stages – Emerging & Aspiring, which is explained below.


Why we are moving from Age Groups to Stage Groups

Rather than use a system that simply divides players into age groups depending on which year they were born, we are keen to develop players depending on their needs and stage of development. Research tells us that while this may seem more complex, it is a better way of maximising the production of talent. This is principally because young people develop at different rates both physically and mentally, meaning that competitions based on age groupings often does not compare like for like, and can hinder development opportunities for many.

Clearly age will still play some part in selection for a particular group, but it will no longer be the only determining factor. In practice, this means we can tailor an individual’s programme to give them the most suitable amount of challenge and support. For instance, a player may be invited to participate in the Aspiring Stage at an Academy Centre to give them additional stretch amongst their peers regionally but be selected for the Emerging National Squad to further develop, and may also allow more focus on additional areas such as leadership and confidence.

The Emerging Stage will normally consist of players who are in an earlier stage of physical or mental development, or have a lower training age/playing experience. The Aspiring Stage will normally consist of players who may be more physically or mentally developed, or have a greater training age/playing experience. Each decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant information about each player.

As a result, we will now operate two Stage groups called Emerging and Aspiring. This is to reflect the difference between those who are starting to demonstrate the abilities that may help them become international athletes in future, and those who are displaying those capabilities more consistently and working on further refining them.