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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

Research: Wellbeing benefits of a balanced approach to sport

Variety brings better benefits

We know through the Balance is Better approach, that quality sport experiences can offer wellbeing benefits for young people above and beyond just moving their bodies.

Playing a variety of sports helps with skill development and decreases the chances of injury, burnout or specialising too early for young people. Research now shows it also leads to enhanced wellbeing.

This study examined how wellbeing is associated with the setting in which sport participation takes place, and the breadth of sport participation with youth aged 11-17 years in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The wellbeing benefit was measured in this study on a 10-point scale from very unhappy (1) to very happy (10), aligning with the OECD guidelines on measuring subjective wellbeing.

The key takeaways from the study back up the real value of multiple settings and multiple sports, and the wellbeing impact for young people, particularly when interactions with quality coaches and others occur.

Takeaways

  • People who participate in sport have a higher level of wellbeing than those who do not participate in sport.
  • A balanced approach to sport participation across three to five different settings or sports is associated with better wellbeing, compared to participation in a single setting or sport, respectively.
  •  Sports that are facilitated by quality coaches and involve positive interactions with other people may offer the largest wellbeing value.

Conclusion

Participation in a variety of sports and sport settings, particularly those involving quality coaches and social interaction, appear to have the strongest association with wellbeing.

These results align with the Balance is Better philosophy, in that spreading participation across a broader number of settings and sports is associated with wellbeing (within a certain “sweet spot” of three to five settings or sports). There are some signs that this may reverse or deteriorate beyond participating in five sports and/or settings, but further research is required to substantiate these findings.

Research paper by:

Oliver W.A. Wilson, Chris Whatman, Simon Walters, Sierra Keung, Dion Enari, Alex Chiet, Sarah-Kate Millar, Lesley Ferkins, Erika Hinckson, Jeremy Hapeta, Michael Sam and Justin Richards.

Link to the full research text

Balance Is Better: The Wellbeing Benefits of Participating in a Breadth of Sports across a Variety of Settings during Adolescence (mdpi.com)

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