Sport Bay of Plenty

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Why balance is better in youth sport

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

You may be familiar with the launch of a recent statement of intent from five high participation sports to change their approach to youth sport. The evidence and voice of young people demonstrate the need for change.

In September cricket, netball, football, rugby and hockey came together to take a stand and commit to doing what’s right for children in a sporting context. Their aim is to create fun environments targeted at the long-term development potential of young people and the physical and mental wellbeing of children.

TGA and BOP U18 hockey_web

Read the youth sport statement of intent

The evidence, as well as the voice of kids across the country, tells us that things need to change. Too many performance narratives have crept into sport, the funnel has narrowed too early and many young people are left with little or no options to participate.

In saying that sports are still looking to provide performance opportunities for those who wish to go down that route, but they’re also looking to broaden the base for longer to allow for late developers to come through.

Norway is a great example of the benefits of such an approach. Norway have been on the participation path for some time and have a 93 per cent activity rate in young people. The also topped the medal table at the 2018 Winter Olympics but a country mile.

The aim is to get more kids involved and create better environments for young people in which to develop. The approach also aligns sports to the Balance is Better philosophy, which encourages children to:

  • Play a variety of sports – there’s no need to have a single focus too soon
  • Use sport as a vehicle for wellbeing and social connection, not just performance outcomes
  • Use free play, backyard sport and organised sport all to add value to athletic ability
  • Transfer skills across codes
  • Learn life skills through sports such work ethic, determination and team work

Want to know more? Visit the Balance is Better website:

Balance is Better website

Workshops at Sport Bay of Plenty

At Sport Bay of Plenty, we run workshops for the community around, athlete development and wellbeing, parents education, student leadership, managers, coaching capability, nutrition and injury management along with the 10 month development coach advance programme. If you have 10 or more participants in your club or school that may be interested please drop us a line.

For more information, contact Dave Clarke Coaching and Sport Development Team Leader at

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x3 May 2016