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Balance is Better

Balance is Better

Basketball Manawatu’s Commitment to This Programme 

What exactly is 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 signed a “Statement of Intent”  with Sport New Zealand.

Basketball New Zealand, as the national governing body for basketball in New Zealand, then also signed up for the programme.

Part of this commitment as an organisation is ensuring all young people who play Basketball receive a quality experience, irrespective of the level at which they are involved.

We are asking all our parents, whanau, coaches, managers, and volunteers involved with Basketball to remember that young people play sport to have fun with their friends. 

If they stop having fun, they stop playing sport.   

Balance is Better is to help bring the focus back to 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.


Is this philosophy 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 – it’s when the focus is on winning at all costs”


What are the reason kids are dropping out?

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.

Whilst we recognise there are a variety of reasons kids leave sport, through research Sport NZ has identified the main issues contributing to declining participation rates:

  • Specialising too early in one sport
  • Being expected to play like professionals
  • Believing that you have make the top team or rep’ team
  • Adult pressure to “be the best” and not make mistakes

The Balance is Better campaign is based on these reasons, and what have been identified as the “Three Myths of Youth Sport”:

  • Myth 1: Early Specialisation is good – This can lead to athlete burn-out and overuse injuries.
  • Myth 2: Childhood success leads to adult success – Children develop at different rates mentally and physically, some much later in their teenage years. Meaning that success in childhood is not an indicator of success in adulthood.​​​​​​​
  • Myth 3: Successful athletes focus on winning – This is a problem for young people, it is a chance to develop mentally, develop coping mechanisms and it could affect their overall motivation to take part.

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

Good sporting experiences for young people don’t just focus on building their skills but also considers a wider concept that includes developing motivation, confidence, knowledge and understanding.


What will we do as an organisation?

Basketball Manawatu with the support of Sport Manawatu, commit to ensuring all young people who play Basketball receive a quality experience, irrespective of the level at which they are involved.

We will work with our parents, whanau, managers, coaches, and volunteers to help all involved understand the Balance is Better messaging, and to make sure we are doing our best to make sure our kids can develop in a fun and safe environment.

We acknowledge the importance of keeping fun in the game, creating balance is sport participation and nurturing talent at the right pace.   


For more information:

Please visit the Sport Manawatu’s Website –

or for free weekly content, sign up directly to the Balance is Better website


Les Elder on youth sport – YouTube

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