Over the past few decades, New Zealand schools have started elite athlete programmes (EAPs) to develop talented sportspeople. The purpose of this study was to evaluate teachers/coaches and elite athletes’ perspectives of their learning experiences in two EAPs. Ball’s concept of performativity and Gore’s techniques of power were integral in examining the relationships between power, knowledge and social practices. The results showed that the EAPs emphasised corporate values of loyalty, self-sacrifice and work ethic and perpetuated the dichotomies of theory/practice, thinking/doing and mind/body discourses that assisted in the marginalised academic status of the EAP. Most of the elite athletes struggled to reconcile their athletic identity with their teenage identity as they sacrificed time with friends, pleasures such as frozen colas and other pursuits to be role models for younger athletes and others in their community.