Balance is Better

Balance is Better is about keeping our young people in sport.


​​​​​​​Sport NZ developed the evidence-based philosophy to inform and provide a framework for the sport system to put the needs of the participant/athlete first.

It’s overall objective is to ensure the sport system provides opportunities for ALL tamariki and rangatahi (young people aged 5-18) to positively experience the benefits of sport participation and to realise their potential. The focus of the philosophy is on why young people play sport - to have fun, experience challenge, develop and improve, be part of a team or group, and be with friends. 

​​​​​​​Addressing System Issues

Balance is Better is also about ‘pushing back’ against 3 key issues that are evident in youth sport. These issues have been identified through research and insight and are supported by evidence: 

  1. Childhood success is not a reliable predictor of future success 
  2. Identifying athletes early and specialising early is taking its toll on young people
  3. A focus on winning rather than development is a problem because it can have unintended consequences on the wellbeing of the participant and affect their motivation to take part 

Leading System Change

Most critically, Balance is Better is about the sport system leading change and committing to: 

  • Ensuring all young people can receive a quality sport experience, irrespective of the level at which they are involved.
  • Leading attitudinal and behavioural change among the sport leaders, coaches, administrators, parents, and caregivers involved in youth sport.
  • Providing leadership to support changes to competition structures, participation, and athlete development opportunities.
  • Sports and schools identifying young talent later in their development, rather than sooner.
  • Reviewing the role and nature of national and regional representative selections and tournaments to ensure skill development opportunities are offered to more young people.
  • Supporting young people to participate in a range of activities and play multiple sports.
  • Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading and proactively managing workload.
  • Working collaboratively to encourage the widest possible change for the wellbeing and sport participation of young New Zealanders.
  • All New Zealanders having the right to participate in sport in an inclusive, fair, and safe environment.

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