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Athlete Stories

Principles of Balance is Better

How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

A guide to understanding specialisation, playing multiple sports, and training load.

What does the journey of a successful athlete look like? What is a successful athlete?

Some of New Zealand’s most well-known athletes were not selected in early-age rep teams. Many speak of how they now benefit from having played multiple sports in their childhood. Almost all talk about how impactful a parent or coach was for their athlete journey.

While the journeys these athletes take to become world beaters will vary, for the vast majority of them, their stories contradict some of the myths about how athletes become successful.

In the conventional sense, we know successful athletes are likely to have benefited from playing multiple sports in their youth. They too, are likely to have benefited from have having a focus on development over winning at a younger age. We know that childhood success is not a great predictor of future success.

In the broader sense, its worth considering what is a successful athlete? Someone who wins on the world stage probably meets the definition of being a successful athlete. But what about the someone who continues to play their sport much later into their life? What about someone who is able take lessons from their sport and apply them to being successful in other areas of their life? For young people to get the most of sport, including developing a life-long love of sport its important we think about the stories we tell about athletes.

Often, we hear stories about the prodigious young talent, or the gifted child. But there are so many other stories youth sport, with many important lessons, worth shining a light on.

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