Youth sport is set to undergo a dramatic shake-up as the leaders of Sport NZ and the country’s five largest participation sports speak out in a united front against negative experiences that are driving too many young New Zealanders away from sport.
Their united message to sport leaders, coaches, administrators and parents is that young people shouldn’t specialise too early so they can develop a range of skills, and rather than over-emphasising winning they should focus on development and making sure participants in youth sport are having fun.
Many sporting organisations across the country are aware of the problems that exist, and some are already making changes. Examples include the removal of intermediate age representative teams by provincial bodies in sports such as rugby and netball, and changes across most sports to make young people’s involvement more fun and engaging.
Hear from each of the sports leaders in the video below on how they want to change youth sport for the better.
This action is informed by the Balance is Better philosophy, designed to bring about a change to the way youth sport is nurtured in New Zealand. Throughout this website there are articles, case studies and videos from trusted sources with lots of tips and advice.
The statement below outlines the six commitments that have been individually and collectively agreed to by Sport NZ and NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby:
- Ensuring all young people who play our sports receive a quality experience, irrespective of the level at which they compete.
- Leading attitudinal and behavioural change among the sport leaders, coaches, administrators, parents and caregivers involved in youth sport.
- Providing leadership to our sports to support changes to competitions and player development opportunities.
- Working with our sports and schools to keep minds open while identifying talent throughout the teen years, including reviewing the role and nature of national and regional representative tournaments to ensure that skills development opportunities are offered to more young people.
- Supporting young people to play multiple sports.
- Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading.
View the published statement of intent and the full media release at www.sportnz.org.nz/keepup
For more reading on the topic of early specialisation, check out the articles below.
- The Risks of Early Specialisation, Sport New Zealand
- A Focus on Fun, Simon Walters & Chris Whatman
- The Perils of Specialisation, John O’Sullivan
Photo Credit: Brett Phibbs / www.photosport.nz