This Is What Youth Sports Should Look Like

Asia Mape
In Learn
By Asia Mape | September 4, 2019
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This Is What Youth Sports Should Look Like

Norway is doing something most countries aren’t.

Universally developing athletes (and dominating) while maintaining a healthy, balanced, ‘fun’, kid-centric approach to youth sports.

Norway won more medals than any nation in the history of Winter Olympics. For a country with only 5 million people (California alone has 8-times that), that’s not too shabby. Yet, they define their youth sports mission as “The Joy Of Sports For All”.

So how are they able to do it?

Tom Farrey, Executive Director of the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute, traveled to Norway to find out.

Watch our recent Tuesday Topic, “What Does True Athletic Development Look Like”.


Here are our key takeaways from the interview and you should also read Farrey’s recent NY Times Article on the subject: Does Norway Have the Answer to Excess in Youth Sports?

First of all, what’s THE PROBLEM?

What is Norway doing differently?

  • Norway’s Children’s Rights In Sports manifestodeliberately tries to align with a kids desire to have fun and be with friends
  • Children “must be granted opportunities to participate in planning and execution of their own sport activities,” according to the document. They may “decide for themselves how much they would like to train,” and can even opt out of games if they just want to practice
  • No National Championships or regional championships or publication of game scores or rankings before age 11
  • Costs are low
  • Travel teams not formed until teenage years

What can we do?

  • Ask your child what they want
  • Educate ourselves on what true development looks like, Project Play’s parent resource center
  • Play multiple sports or engage in diverse physical activities
  • Develop love of game
  • Free play and creative play
  • Potentially change policy at a state level
  • Train all coaches and educate them on how to encourage development over winning

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