Ep1 – Welcome to The Athlete Development Show


Hello listeners… and thank you for tuning in to the first episode of the athlete development show. My name is Craig Harrison and I’ll be your host on this journey that takes a close look at the youth athlete’s story.

If you don’t know me, I’m director of Athlete Development at AUT Millennium on the North Shore of Auckland, in the beautiful New Zealand.

My journey in sport started as a young kid, in my backyard, playing every possible game you can imagine. Throughout my younger years, I did heaps of different sports, but my favourite were soccer and athletics. No doubt because I was pretty good at these ones. By the time I was 15, I was playing premier level football at school. And as a 17-year-old, I won the national champs for hurdles on the track.

But that’s when things changed.

I blew my hammy entirely in my first year out of school and never recovered. Looking back now, I think I did have some talent, but I was doing all the wrong things in my training to keep me strong and fit, so that I could reach my potential.

So, rather than compete in sport, I choose to study it, and headed to the University of Otago for a degree in physical education. Six years later, I left Otago with a Masters in exercise physiology, oh yeh, and a lot of great memories, and moved back to Auckland to start a career working in sport.

I began in high performance working with netball. My job was to get some of the best players in the country to their peak physical condition. And I loved it. But I soon noticed gaps in their skills and abilities… these gaps that were very hard to completely fill.

High performance sport is intense. You train, play, rest, then repeat, in the highest intensity possible, and you just don’t have time to develop the fundamental building blocks of athleticism. Now, these building blocks can fill any gaps in your development…. to reduce the risk of injury, enhance your sporting potential, to allow you to perform at your best.

That’s when I turned my hand to development. And working with youth. It was 2010 and I was lucky to land an incredible opportunity with AUT Millennium, running their long term athlete development programme on a PhD research scholarship.

I was helping kids passionate about sport – all different kinds of sports – develop their athletic and mental performance, while at the same time investigating how to do it better.

Fast forward to today, and I direct a team of expert coaches and researchers to do the same.

We work with over 100 athletes every week to help them improve their fundamental movement skills, to get stronger, faster, and more flexible, and reduce their chances of injury.

But we also help them fall in love with training – you know, the hard stuff that no one else ever sees.

And we help them understand them own strengths and weaknesses so they can work on them appropriately – to develop their confidence, and to achieve more in the sports that they love.

We do the same with up and coming athletes from over 30 primary and secondary schools around the country.

But we also spend a lot of time doing research…. to fill the gap between what science knows and what most of us tend to do. Then we take our findings and share them in ways the athletes, coaches, teachers, and parents can easily understand.

So, why a podcast then? Well, it’s simple really.

I want to tell the story of the youth athlete straight from the horse’s mouth – a story from the perspective of so many interesting people doing great things for young athlete everywhere.

And so…. here it is… the athlete development show.

On the show, I’ll interview coaches, teachers, medical practitioners, parents…. and athletes themselves…. who are in the thick of it… to dig deep into a youth athlete world that is more demanding and competitive than ever before.

And I’ll also examine the latest science… from researchers all over the world… to get the skinny on how best to guide the developing athlete.

I’m super excited to get cracking… and I really hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Oh, and one more thing…. be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes. And please share it with all your friends!