Enter your email
address below

An initiative by
In partnership with Player
An initiative by
In partnership with Player

Sign Up

Already signed up? Click here to login
An initiative by
In partnership with Player

What you can do

It’s important to know how to create and manage change in a competitive sport environment so that it provides appropriate, relevant and meaningful development opportunities for all participants.

Here are some practical tips:

  • Provide more time and opportunities to develop all kids – keep a broader base for longer and ensure more participants receive quality, positive experiences and support.
  • Be patient. Hold off on making early selection decisions.
  • Focus on the appropriate development of all participants.
  • Promote the playing of multiple sports and support young people participating in a range of activities.
  • Cater for the diverse range of young people’s motivations.
  • Find creative ways to re-engage the disengaged.
  • Put the kids’ needs first; leave out the adult egos.
  • Work collaboratively with other sports/organisations.
  • Show the way – lead attitudinal and behavioural change with coaches and parents.

Resources for Sport Administrators

Coaching Fundamentals

A Focus on Fun

Fun should be at the forefront of kids sport. In this article, Simon Walters & Chris Whatman share a range of evidence...
Sport Leadership

NZ Youth Sport with Andrew Eade

In this interview, we sit down with Andrew Eade, Sport Development Lead at Sport New Zealand for a wide ranging chat on...
Development & Performance

Relative Age Effect

This article is shared by Player Development Project Steve Lawrence is a consultant to Cruyff Football and Ajax in the Netherlands. With a...

Sport administrators need to think about how to put the fun and skill development back into youth sport.

As leaders, bold and courageous change is needed to develop young participants to realise their potential in sport and in life – winning in the long run.

Sport NZ’s Balance is Better philosophy can help you understand what you can do to encourage young people to stay active in competitive sport for longer.

At the heart of this is putting the emphasis on the needs of the participant. Research around participant/athlete development here and overseas has identified three key issues.

Key Issue #1

Childhood success is not a reliable predictor of future success

Young people are all different and development doesn’t occur in a simple straightforward manner – or at the same speed. Competitive sporting opportunities need to reflect this rather than over-investing (both time and money) in just those who the show the most promise at a young age. All young people deserve quality sporting experiences and the opportunity to shine.

Key Issue #2

Identifying athletes early and specialising early on is taking its toll on young people

Too many young people are specialising in one sport in the belief that this is the best way for them to develop into elite adults. In truth, burnout, overuse injuries and declining motivation are more likely to be the outcomes of early specialisation. Administrators need to delay selection decisions, proactively managing young people at risk of overtraining and overloading and finding ways to keep them involved in a range of quality experiences in competitive sport – for longer.

Key Issue #3

A focus on winning rather than development

It’s time to stop focusing on high performance and overemphasising ‘winning’ in youth sport. This approach is creating a lack of balance and leads to high workload and high pressure for young people too soon. A focus on development and getting better is what young people want and what successful athletes and people focus on.

As leaders we need to be bold and courageous to tackle the change needed.

How can you impact change?

Sport leaders play an important role in helping the sport system respond, especially around the support given to parents and coaches. Above all, remember why young people participate in sport – it’s about fun, the challenge, being part of a team or group, being with friends and self-improvement. Together everyone in the system can make sport inclusive, fair and safe for all young people.

If you’re a national or regional sporting organisation, talk to Sport NZ’s Sport Development team about embedding the Balance is Better philosophy into your approach for managing youth sport.

Or start exploring the Balance is Better website for practical resources, case studies and more.

Remember why young people participate in sport – it’s about fun, the challenge, being part of a team or group, being with friends and self-improvement.

More Resources for Sport Administrators

Sports Parents

What is a Good Youth Sport Experience?

In this article, Sport Waikato shares insights into how adults can create a great sporting experience for our young people. So you...
Sport Leadership

Learning Begins When Teaching Stops

This article is shared by Player Development Project How does a teacher or coach transition to a learner-centric view where you can...