There’s a growing awareness in New Zealand (and around the world) that youth sport is on the wrong path. We’re losing young people from sport, and they are missing out on the opportunity to be physically active and reach their full potential. Across the country and through most codes, people are saying it is time we put young people back in the centre of the experience.  We know from research that young people play sport to have fun with their friends and develop their skills.

In response, Hockey NZ and our Associations are constantly exploring changes to our game and competitions to bring them more in line with what young people tell us they want.

Current Change Projects

Participation Principles for community hockey

Following Hockey New Zealand’s Strategy Delivery Review and emerging research from Sport NZ, it was determined that our current delivery model needed to change. At this age and stage, the aim is to provide a quality experience for all.

In late 2020, Association Development Officers, Managers, CEOs, and HNZ staff collaborated to establish Nationally agreed Participation Principles which provide guidance for locally delivered programmes and events across the country.

Associations have been tasked with providing quality opportunities focused on player development which reach a broad base of participants, are fun, affordable.

Balance is Better Signed Statement of Intent

Hockey NZ along with Sport NZ and other sports are taking a stand to bring the fun and skills development focus back into the game for all young people. This includes pushing back against early specialisation, over-emphasis on winning and other factors that are driving too many young New Zealanders away from sport.

All have signed a Statement of Intent that will pave the way for substantial change in the way youth experience sport in Aotearoa.

Our Commitment 

Individually and collectively, we commit 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 sports 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 skill development opportunities are offered to more young people 
      • Supporting young people to play multiple sports. 
      • Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading. 

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Keep up with the Play

Alongside the Balance is Better signed statement of Intent, Hockey NZ have also joined with Sport NZ with an integrated marketing campaign named ‘Keep up with the Play’ to take these important messages to clubs, schools, parents, coaches, administrators and others involved in the delivery of youth sport.

The key messages include:

      • Multiple sports, variety of skills and complementary skills are good for player development
      • Understanding that young people will develop at different ages and stages
      • A Participant-centric approach (understanding how young people learn and why they play) is the best approach
      • Over-training and over-playing leads to burn out and injury in young players.
      • Involvement in sport at any level or stage in life is good

Further Information

Case Studies