Balance is Better is an evidence-based philosophy developed by Sport NZ. The focus of the philosophy is on why young people play sport – to have fun, be challenged, develop and improve, be part of a team or group, and enjoy time with friends.
Three myths in youth sport identified through research and supported by evidence:
Childhood success is not a reliable predictor of future success – ask yourself how many of those U9, U11, U13 and U15 reps from 5 or 10 years ago are still playing?
Identifying athletes early and specialising early is taking its toll on young people – kids are getting overuse injuries that you’d normally see in adults. They want to play multiple sports and try different things.
A focus on winning rather than development is a problem for young people, because it can have unintended consequences on their wellbeing and affect their motivation to take part. Taking away a focus on winning doesn’t mean the kids don’t want to win. If we develop all players to be successful then the win will come.
What needs to change
Ensuring all young people who play softball 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.
Support changes to competitions and player development opportunities.
Keep an open mind 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
What can you do as Coaches?
Be inclusive and focus on developing ALL players.
Give players a quality experience by keeping practices enjoyable and inclusive
Take advantage of opportunities to develop your thinking and delivery - there are some fantastic resources out there