Sport and Recreation Pathway

The New Zealand Sport and Recreation Pathway is our model outlining the stages of active sport and recreation participants.

It spans the dual aims of lifelong participation and high performance success, achieved as part of one integrated sport and recreation system.

The pathway describes the stages of sport and recreation participation that most people experience. It incorporates the dual aims of lifelong participation in sport with achieving high performance success, both delivered as part of one integrated sport and recreation system.

Early childhood experiences are critical to progression along the pathway, and lifelong participation in sport and recreation.

The pathway and its phases are outlined below.

Explore stage

This stage is about the development of fundamental movement skills, such as running, throwing, jumping etc. Most children move through this stage in the first seven years of life.

The development of basic movement patterns, skills, confidence in movement, and a willingness to attempt new activities is critical for children if they are to enter sport and recreation.

Children at this stage need many and varied movement experiences every day.

Learn stage

This stage is the entry level to organised sport and recreation activities. Most children will transition through this stage by the time they are 12.

Children will develop more refined skills, learn the rules of games and learn positive attitudes towards sport and recreation, including about winning and losing.

Coaches, parents and clubs are encouraged to take a long-term view of children’s participation. Using versions of sports adapted for children’s needs is increasingly seen as important.

Participate stage

This phase is about young people and adults experiencing lifelong participation in sport and recreation.

This is a diverse and complex phase where enjoyment and fun are the key drivers for participation, but at the same time performance, challenge and improvement are often key motivators. During this phase, both these aspirations across a wide age range need to be catered for.

The pathway through this stage is not linear, and changes are common. It is therefore important that multiple formats and options are available to cater for the diverse needs of participants.

Perform stage

This stage can begin from a young age and involves those participants who have the ability to perform their chosen sport to a high level. They may be playing at provincial or national age-grade levels.

It is at this stage that many will become part of talent identification programmes, such as Pathway to Podium, designed to lead to elite sport, representing their country on the world stage.

Excel stage

At this stage athletes are able to translate their training and technical skills into competing at a world-class level and achieving excellence in one sport. They will potentially be representing their country.

They will also most likely be part of a high performance programme, and receiving support from High Performance Sport New Zealand, with a focus on optimisation of performance.