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

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

How to coach with a Balance is Better philosophy

How to coach with a Balance is Better philosophy

Balance is Better Principles Poster

Balance is Better Principles Poster

Creating a positive parent culture

Creating a positive parent culture

Unpacking the Balance is Better principles

Unpacking the Balance is Better principles

Running good trials and selections

Running good trials and selections

Balanced Female Health

Balanced Female Health

Q&A with Balance is Better Champion, Amy Nield

Tell us a bit about you and where you grew up.

I grew up in the Hawkes Bay and moved to Auckland when I was 10. I have lived on the North Shore and now reside in East Auckland, with a brief university stint in the wonderful city of Dunedin.

How did you first get involved in sport?

I have been involved in sport since I was little, from watching my mother coach gymnastics as a pre-schooler, to playing netball, football, cricket, martial arts, swimming, rowing, running, sailing, dancing, and doing all forms of gymnastics (except for trampoline). Sport has offered me an opportunity to meet people, to build relationships, and to have an outlet from everyday life – an opportunity to switch off, forget hardships, burn some energy and feel alive.

Why was sport important to you? How did it shape you personally?

In my later years, sport offered me an opportunity to work with young people and coaches from different codes, and it’s now my full-time job – you could say I eat, sleep, and breathe the opportunities sport has given me. I love how sport can be for any person and how there are different ideas, groups, and challenges that can give young people an area to strive in. Participation can range from fun and friendship to a professional career – the language of sport is universal, and the benefits of being active can be lifelong.

Were there any special people who had a positive impact on you? Who were they and why?

I was lucky in my sporting endeavours to have coaches who focused on the positive aspects of sport, and had fun, joy, and curiosity at the heart of what they do. As a coach, this is what I aim to embrace – fun and the enjoyment of participants are a key part of my coaching philosophy.

What are the highlights of your sporting career?

Across my many sports, I never excelled – I was always a good team member, but never a star. However, I have had travel opportunities within sport which have been exciting, and to go as a coach to high-level events has certainly been a highlight!

Are there any important lessons you learned that you’d share with young people?

My one key piece of advice is to love the sport you are in – remember why you chose it in the first place, and be there because you love it, not because of something or someone else.

Why is being a Balance is Better Champion important to you?

I love the philosophy of Balance is Better. To me, it is about why you should be involved in sport. I hope that by being a champion for gymnastics I can open some courageous conversations about what balance in gymnastics could look like, challenge some ideas and ways of the past, and encourage coaches to offer quality experiences that match the needs of the participants.

Is there a particular aspect of Balance is Better that resonated with you? If so, why?

As a coach, I know how good it can feel to win. But I also know that the feeling when an athlete goes out on the floor and does an amazing routine – the best you have ever seen them do – is an even better feeling. When they walk off the floor with a beaming smile and are happy with their performance, whatever the score or placing – that is my favourite winning feeling. My challenge and hope to achieve is that more coaches coach with that as an end goal in mind – the athlete feeling that they have given it their all, and that all the hard work was worth it.

Why does the Balance is Better Champions programme excite you?

I am excited to work with other coaches and Champions to share that sport is not the be-all and end-all, but if done right and with consideration, it can be a platform for all future activities. Sport can teach so many transferable skills for all facets of life.

If there was a piece of advice you could give to people supporting young people in sport, what would it be? 

Be involved in sport – stay in the sport(s) that you love, but do them on your terms. If you want to play multiple sports, do it, but always think how it could impact other parts of your life. Ask questions, challenge something if it feels wrong, and listen to the advice of your parents and coaches: if what they are saying makes sense, then use it. Being involved in sport is one of the best things that you can do. Don’t be afraid!

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