Balance is Better is an evidence based philosophy that underpins Sport New Zealand's overall approach to youth sport. In August 2019, New Zealand Rugby joined four of the country's largest participation sports - Cricket, Football, Hockey and Netball and signed a "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 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.
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.
Sport NZ works with the sector to provide quality experiences in sport for all tamariki and rangatahi (young people aged 5-18), including for those who enjoy competition as well as those who just want to have fun.
There are three myths in youth sport that have been identified though research and are supported by evidence. 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.
Bay of Plenty Rugby is committed to ensuring that we support our coaches, match officials, club and school administrators, parents and hard working volunteer committees to understand and adopt this philosophy so that we can all work together to provide a fun and safe learning environment that encourages our youth to have positive experiences while playing rugby.
Our very own Black Ferns XV's captain Les Elder is one of the Balance is Better Champions.