Is your pre-season training starting too early?

9 September 2022
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All young people should receive a quality sport experience, irrespective of whether they’ve chosen to play socially, competitively, or are in a rep squad. They should be able to play a variety of sports and not have to worry that they won’t get picked for a team because they can’t make pre-season training.

To support system change and encourage young people to stay involved in sport for longer, a Wellington Regional Balance is Better Advisory Group has been established to provide guidance and lead the implementation of projects across the region.

Consisting of College Sport Wellington, Nuku Ora, and nominated members from Athletics Wellington, Capital Football, dsport, Gymnastics NZ, Wellington Hockey, Wellington North Badminton, and the Wellington Rowing Association, the group’s aim is to provide guidance to sport administrators and Leaders working or volunteering in a regional or local club and school youth sport, and effect positive change based on Sport NZ’s evidence-based Balance is Better philosophy.

The Group’s initial meetings have determined three priority areas. Following on from the change in March this year whereby seven major Wellington sports organisations agreed to improve the experience for players and parents by aligning their respective season transition dates, the first project the Group is addressing is pre-season training and providing guidance to the sports, colleges, and parents as to what best practice looks like.

Chair of the group, Bryan Dickinson, Executive Director, College Sport Wellington said, “At the moment schools and clubs look at the season’s calendar and decide when they’ll start pre-season training. For some teams that might be 4 weeks prior to the first comp and for others it’s 3 months before! Part of Balance is Better is enabling participants to finish one sport and have a break before starting another. Other important considerations are knowing who your participants are – have they just finished another sport so they’re fit and don’t need as much pre-season conditioning?”

The Balance is Better philosophy aims to; encourage young people to stay involved in sport for life; support young people to realise their potential at the right time, and enable wider well-being outcomes to be generated for young people in and through sport.

It’s crucial that the people who lead sport organisations (board members, CEs, managers, club committees) are knowledgeable about Balance is Better and understand why it is important.

Dane Lett, Head of Hockey, Wellington Hockey said, “Change can take time to embed so we know that as leaders of sport organisations we need to be persistent and continue to reinforce why we’re making changes so that our coaches, parents, volunteers, and the athletes understand the rationale behind them. We also need to dispel the myths like Balance is Better is anti-competition. It isn’t anti-competition its focus is on competitions and development programmes being age and stage appropriate.”

If you’d like information on Balance is Better or the work that the Advisory Group is doing, contact Graham Witts, Community Development Lead – Participation and Coaching, Nuku Ora on For more information on the Balance is Better, visit