Is your pre-season training starting too early?


8 September 2022




Is your pre-season training starting too early?

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 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 wellbeing 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



For more information contact:

Graham Witts, Community Development Lead, Nuku Ora

Ph: 021 436 858 or


Bryan Dickinson, Executive Director, College Sport Wellington (Chair of the Advisory Group)

Ph: 021 409 862




Media release sent out on 18 March 2022

Wellington regional sport organisations make changes for participant wellbeing

Seven major sports organisations have agreed to improve the experience for players and parents by aligning their respective season transition dates.

In a first for Wellington, College Sport Wellington, Netball Central, Wellington Hockey, Capital Football, Wellington Rugby, and Cricket Wellington have unanimously agreed to align their season structures when the winter sport season commences in Term 2. The winter season will begin no earlier than the week beginning Monday 2nd May, 2022.


The decision is the result of a collaborative conversation between five Regional Sport Organisations (RSOs), College Sport Wellington, and Nuku Ora last August, which identified the systems and culture change needed to provide quality sport opportunities for youth in Wellington. The change is in line with Sport NZ’s Balance is Better evidence-based philosophy that supports quality experiences for all rangatahi regardless of ability, needs and motivations.

In early conversations, RSOs recognised that lengthy competition structures and high-volume training requirements in some codes were causing workload issues and scheduling clashes.  This was having a negative impact on participant wellbeing, and all codes agreed to review their core season length, with a view that aligning seasons will allow room for rest and recovery and enable youth to participate in both summer and winter sports.

Lisa Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Wellington Hockey is delighted to have been a part of the collective approach. “The health and wellbeing of our young people is a top priority for us and this alignment will mean they will be able to enjoy their Hockey and look after themselves with less pressure than they may have been under before. With all sports now working together we can create fantastic opportunities for our young people in whatever sport they choose.”

General Manager of Cricket Wellington, Liz Green believes RSO’s working together will “promote a balanced approach to participation in sport. We are stronger when we are all working together and if we can play our role in keeping young people involved in sport for life, then everyone benefits.”


Increasing the break between seasons will ensure participants and their whānau enjoy an off-season break, with sports coming together to monitor and mitigate risks of early specialisation, overtraining, and overloading.


Matt Evans, Chief Executive Officer of Wellington Rugby, acknowledges this is just the beginning for collaborative decisions in the sector, “Although we all still have some work to do, this seasonal structure concept is a perfect example of how sports are collectively adapting and becoming more participant centric.”


Alex Chiet, Sport Development Lead at Sport NZ thinks it is fantastic to see this collaboration in support of Balance is Better, “It’s great to see that the codes are aware of the impact that long seasons and high training loads have on young people.  The commitment to align seasons will certainly reduce this impact.

This change is helping those rangatahi participating in social sport as well as those who are striving for success.  It is a great step towards ensuring the needs of our rangatahi are at the centre of what we do.”


The RSOs involved hope to see more local sport organisations make the move to align their seasons, to ensure rangatahi can continue to enjoy being active and participating in the sports they love. It is about young people staying involved in sport for life and finding ways to enable that to happen.