Creating quality experiences for all young people to keep them active and in the game
Helping our tamariki & rangatahi develop a lifelong love for play, active recreation and sports
Balance is Better is an evidence-based philosophy which has inspired Sport New Zealand’s framework to focus on ensuring all tamariki and rangatahi receive quality sport experiences (irrespective of the level at which they are involved), to develop a lifelong love of play, active recreation and sport, and realise their potential in sport at the right time.
The focus of the Balance is Better philosophy is on why young people play sport – to have fun, be challenged, develop and improve, be part of a team, and enjoy time with friends.
Three common myths being combatted by Balance is Better:
Early specialisation is good: “The earlier athletes choose their sport and focus on it the better”. In reality, this can cause burnout, overuse injuries and declining motivation. By having a diverse sporting experience, children develop transferable skills, greater creativity and better decision-making capabilities.
Childhood success leads to adult success: Talent can be identified early (sometimes a young athlete's gifts are obvious at an early age). However, every athlete is different, progress is non-linear – and how one performs at a young age is not a reliable predictor of their future potential.
The aim is to create positive experiences for rangatahi and tamariki, providing opportunities to have fun in a development environment and build their passion for sport. It’s not about taking away winning or competition – it is about ensuring all kids have quality opportunities and a positive sporting environment for skill development to encourage their passion and drive in sport for many years to come.
It means that our future aspiring athletes are equipped with the skills & development to ensure they’re physically, mentally, and emotionally equipped to pursue their dreams and aspirations as sportspeople, if & when that time comes. For the past seven years, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) have been tracking the age at which athletes who enter into the High Performance Athlete Development system specialised in their respective sport. They have found that on average, these athletes specialise in their respective sport at age 15 years and 5 months.
National data shows that too many young New Zealanders, especially in their teenage years, are walking away from sport. It’s important we understand the reasons young people are walking away to help keep them participating and engaged.
While we often talk about success in youth sport through the lens of competition, there are other ways that success in youth sport is defined.
Athletic development – personal bests, new skills, etc.
The development of young people through sport – developing more confidence, self-leadership, providing service to others, etc.
Retaining young people in sport – rangatahi returning year on year shows participant engagement and enjoyment.
Young people are happy when they are involved in sport – they feel like they belong, have fun with their friends and get to experience the feeling of improving at something.
Ultimately, we want to help all of the athletes and participants to develop a growth mindset. This means instilling the belief that dedication and hard work will lead to improvement, and thus success as defined by the athlete. Furthermore, athletes must be willing to expose themselves to risk and failure to expand their learning scope and understand that this is an important part of their developmental journey.
In Te Tai Tokerau, we are focussed on ensuring play, active recreation and sport is available to all tamariki and rangatahi across the region. Meanwhile, spreading the Balance is Better message to try to educate parents, coaches, administrators and children wherever possible.
Tū Manawa funding for schools/clubs/organisations to provide more play, active recreation and sport opportunities.
Coach development & improvement to ensure quality coaching is the standard.
Reviewing Talent Identification strategies and working with Sports Organisations to start this process later (ideally 15 years old at the earliest).
Changing/reviewing the structure of youth sport competitions.
If you would like to know more about Balance is Better and what you can do contact:
Joey Yovich, Regional Connector - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to learn more about how you can implement Balance is Better in your club or organisation, please contact:
Ellie Eastwood, Regional System Connector, Sport Northland | email@example.com
CDL Group Northland Sports House97 Western Hills Drive, Kensington,Whangārei firstname.lastname@example.org
CDL Group Northland Sports House - 09 437 9600McKay Stadium / Kensington Fitness - 09 437 4404