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National Athlete Categorisation Framework

Following an 18-month period of consultation and pilot testing, the ASC Board has approved an updated National Athlete Categorisation Framework (NACF). This Framework is also endorsed by the National Institute Network.

The NACF will be used by the NIN and National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to inform planning and prioritise support to Australian athletes to consistently win medals at major international events, in line with the National High Performance Sports Strategy (NHPSS).

The NACF has been developed to provide a consistent basis, both within and across sports to:

  • Identify the athletes with the greatest potential to contribute to Australia consistently winning medals at major international events;
  • Inform the prioritisation of support to these athletes; and
  • Track their performance over time.

Benefits of the revised framework

  • Allows NSOs and the NIN to be more targeted in the support of athletes with the greatest potential to achieve podium performances at Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games;
  • Provides greater sport-specific flexibility to enable NSOs to include more appropriate timeframes for athlete progression through their sport Pathway (rather than the previous uniform two-year progression between levels); and
  • Encourages a more holistic and evidence-based approach to an athlete’s assessment and development of potential for future podium performance.

NSOs will develop a sport-specific matrix, in collaboration with the AIS Performance Pathways Team (and other NIN partners where appropriate) that defines each of the five categorisation levels.  Appropriate sport-specific talent identification, confirmation and development profiling and assessments for each level will be developed.  A sport-specific matrix will be agreed with the AIS in advance of athlete nominations, as part of the planning process for the next pinnacle event cycle.

Many sports have requested to progress immediately with implementing the new NACF following the pilot and the AIS will now support all sports to do so within an appropriate timeframe for them.

The main changes to the framework

  • Future achievement focused: At all stages of the NACF, athletes must be considered capable of future podium performance and not just assessed in relation to historical results.
  • Redefine how Commonwealth Games athletes are categorised: Athletes in Commonwealth Games only sports will be categorised using the Framework in relation to their sport-specific matrix and progression towards a Commonwealth Games outcome; Athletes in an Olympic/ Paralympic pathway will be categorised in line with their sport-specific matrix and progression towards an Olympic/ Paralympic outcome specifically recognising performances at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Remove ‘International’ category: Athletes identified previously as ‘international’ and not part of the NSOs revised Performance Pathway, can agree a local arrangement with the specific NIN partners if appropriate.
  • Remove two-year progression timelines between categories to provide sport-specific pathway progression.
  • Clear distinction and criteria for each of the five categories: In collaboration with the AIS Performance Pathways Team (and NIN partners as appropriate), NSOs will develop appropriate sport-specific identification, confirmation and development profiling and assessments for each level of categorisation.
  • Change to annual athlete nomination: NSOs will categorise athletes annually, against the sport-specific matrix, in line with an agreed annual review process.

More information

For more information please contact the AIS Performance Pathways Team.

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