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Resources for Coaches

The ultimate goal is to help all young people realise their potential in sport and in life – winning in the long run.

Sport NZ’s Balance is Better philosophy can help provide you with a framework on what you can do to encourage young people to stay active in competitive sport for longer and realise their sporting potential.

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 athletes are specialising in one sport in the belief 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. We need to delay selection decisions, proactively manage young people at risk of overtraining and overloading and find ways to keep more young people 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.

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

How can you impact change?

Sporting leaders, including administrators and coaches, are encouraged to be bold and courageous to tackle the change needed to make sport inclusive, fair and safe for young people.

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.

To learn more, 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.

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