Kia Kaha, Kia Ora | Be Active, Be Well


Balance is Better

Balance is Better is an evidence based philosophy that underpins Sport New Zealand's overall approach to youth sport. In 2019 five of the country's largest participation sports – Rugby, Cricket, Football, Hockey and  Netball  came on board with Balance is Better and in 2021 another 10 sports have come on board Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, NZ Rugby League, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ and Waka Ama NZ  "Statement of Intent" with Sport New Zealand committing to:


  • Ensuring all young people who play our sports receive a quality experience, irrespective of the  level at which they are involved.
  • 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 identify talent later in an athlete’s development, rather than sooner.
  • 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 participate in a range of activities and play multiple sports.
  • Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading.

Is this the philosohy against winning?

People often think it's a dumbing down of sport, making kids soft, and that this is a negative thing - but no, it's very much a winning strategy for participation and performance with the child’s or athletes development right at the heart of it.

It's okay for kids to pursue improvement, to get better and to strive for success. We are advocating for this to happen in an environment of development, not one that places all the emphasis on the outcome.

“Winning is bad isn’t the argument –

We're loosing kids from sports

But you can change that.  

Youth Sport is changing and the thinking is changing.

Play your Part

The thinking is changing. Get the latest thoughts, advice and coaching tips from people working hard to keep kids playing and enjoying sport.

Resources for Coaches: Click here

Resources for Parents: Click here

Resources for Sport Administrators: Click here


Kids are speaking with their feet. 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.

We need to take a long-term view, people should have a lifelong enjoyment and passion for sport.   Aside from the obvious health benefits for the individual, it is also good for society.  We need kids who grow into adults who will value sport and be able to give back to their communities.

We hope kids that enjoy sport now may end up being our next round of teachers, coaches, umpires and volunteers.

Tackling the dropping numbers in youth sport must start with a change in attitudes. 

“This is actually a campaign about re-thinking youth sport – we shouldn’t view kids sport through adult eyes”.

What are people saying about Balance is Better?​​​​​​​

The ‘Balance is Better’ message is an important message to learn more about. It supports me in my role as a sports coordinator and parent to better meet the needs of rangatahi in sport and explains how you can be a vehicle to drive positive change for the future of sporting experiences for our young people. – Brooke Price, Sacred Heart

I was absolutely blown away by the workshop.  The declining numbers of participants across sports was astounding and I really got how important balance is in sports.   Also listening to Dillon from a parent’s perspective was magic and really resonated with me. – Moana Davis, Intercity Junior Rugby Board

10 Golden Rules For Youth Sport Parents

BeSportive we hear from various past and present New Zealand athletes, coaches and sport personalities about how parents can make sport great for young Kiwis.

Click here to watch the video


Balance is Better is an evidence-based approach. 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.

“It’s not about taking away winning”

Balance is Better recognises that sport and competition and winning is all part of the environment that we're in, but that winning should not come at all costs.

We are asking all those involved with the delivery of youth sport to remember; young people play sport to have fun with their friends.   If they stop having fun, they stop playing sport.   

Balance is Better has identified through research and evidence that there are 3 myths in youth sport contributing to the decline in participation rates.   They are:

1. Early Specialisation is good.
2. Childhood success leads to adult success.
3. Successful athletes focus on winning.

The Balance is Better philosophy pushes back against these myths to stress that:

1. Childhood success is not a reliable predictor of future success.
2. Identifying athletes early and specialising early is taking its toll on young people.
3. 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.

Focusing too early on just one sport, putting winning before skills development and making young people train like professionals are the problems - not the solutions.


Parents, time to talkClick here

It's because were writing them off: Click here

Are we expecting young people to develop at the same rate?Click here

Making sense of youth sport: Click here​​​​​​​

Are we only supporting the kids in the top teams? 

Click here​​​​​​​


Tim Motu | Sport Development Manager

Phone: 027 654 9588

Email: [email protected]

Kate Benny | Sport Development Manager

Phone: 027 747 3298 

Email: k[email protected]