EMPOWER Programme


EMPOWER is an 8 week workshop programme aimed at increasing athlete understanding of what is needed to perform at their best on the world stage.


The programme uses workshops, experienced facilitators, inspiring role models, peer discussion and reflective practice to increase participants understanding of the concepts covered (mindset, planning and communication).  The programme also seeks to help participants determine how the skills they learn can become part of their approach to their training and preparation. 

Past participants include multiple world champions, medallists and senior athletes across many of the sports HPSNZ supports, including rowing, athletics, triathlon and rugby seven's to name a few.

The programme is led by Life Advisor and Olympic medallist Nathan Twaddle and draws on the principles of the successful Coach Accelerator Programme, insights from study on the behaviours of successful kiwi athletes at Olympic Games and the expertise and experience from within High Performance Sport New Zealand.

When are the workshops?

The workshops are run fortnightly usual for about four hours with a dinner break. Exact dates and locations will be confirmed at the time applications are opened.  The first session is usually the last week of October and finishes the second week of December.

How do I apply?

Applications will open online the last week of September.  Applicants will then be contacted by their Athlete Life Advisor to confirm your interest.

Please note because of the time investment needed as an athlete coach and sport approval will be sought as part of the application process.

Who is it targeted at?

The programme is for level one and level two carded athletes with the potential to reach pinnacle events.  

In the interests of group dynamics, an upper limit will be set of 12 athletes to take part in the cohort.  Beyond that acceptance into the programme will only be limited by sport approval and ability to attend sessions. 

If the number of applicants is over 12, the programme lead Nathan will work with applicants and their support team to determine the most appropriate opportunities. 

NOTE: The programme is not targeted at current Olympic or World Championship medallists, though they are welcome to take part. Some Olympic and world championship medallists may be involved as role models during workshops.

What's in it for participants?

This is an opportunity for athletes to improve their understanding of what it takes to make the most of their skills and potential.  The combination of structured learning, discussion amongst peers, and alignment with team support is a great way to learn and to energise athletes focus.

What will it cost participants?

All reasonable financial costs for travel (within New Zealand), accommodation and food will be covered. There is a cost in terms of time commitment to attend the sessions and to do the work to make the workshops useful, as outlined below. 

How much time will I have to commit?

Participants will not be required to do any prep prior to workshop sessions but will work with Nathan between workshops and for a month after the last session and/or with their psych or life advisor.  The opportunity for individual consults with facilitators will also be offered.  Some reading material will also be available but only given on need and interest.

NOTE: Applicants need to also consider that the first two sessions fall within the university exam window.  For that reason, additional work requirements in this window will be kept at a minimum.

Why do I need my sport and coach's support to take part?

The topics and learning from this programme are broad but the buy-in from an athlete's team is the best way to embed the learning. Practically given the time commitment asked, the sport needs to be aware of any potential impact of training times and check that the topics do align with priorities that are focuses within the sport.

What if I don't have a coach at the moment?

If athletes applying do not currently have a coach, then the agreement needs to come from the sport's head coach and/or high performance director.

What if I can't attend all the sessions?

Participants are asked to be available for at least three of the four sessions in person.  For any sessions missed, participants will be asked to go over the content with Nathan using video recordings and individual catch ups.

What happens if I apply and I can't attend enough sessions?

Nathan and your Athlete Life Advisor will work with you to find other ways to access resources to help with your learning.

More information

Please contact your athlete life advisor or feel free to email Nathan directly at nathan.twaddle@hpsnz.org.nz