Promising Practices

  1. Focus on athlete growth and development
  2. Using Competition Intentionally for Development
  3. Supporting long-term goals
  4. A Commitment to Sport for All
  5. Partnerships that Prioritize Development Needs
Focus on athlete growth and development

Quality Sport programming is beginning to catch on across Canada, with organizations committing to foster the development of their participants on multiple fronts long-term. Many of these programs offer stage-by-stage skill progressions and report cards. Some of the organizations embracing best practices are listed below.

Best practices

  • Alpine Canada’s Snow Stars: Snow Stars is a seven-step skill development guide that offers coaching education and evaluation resources and an assessment tool for alpine, ski cross and para-alpine skiers.

  • Skate Canada’s CanSkate program focuses on a complete series of balance, control and agility skills that will prepare skaters for any ice skating sport or recreational skating.

  • Canada Basketball’s Jr. NBA program is a national youth basketball program designed to develop fundamental skills, sportsmanship and a love of the game of basketball. 

  • The Special Olympics Active Start and FUNdamentals program offers two community youth programs for children with intellectual disabilities aged 2 to 12.

  • The BC Wheelchair Basketball Let’s Play program is a non-profit that provides support to wheelchair basketball programs throughout British Columbia.

Supporting Long-Term Goals

Quality Sport organizations need to think beyond the present moment, always looking for ways to refine their programming and about ways to develop long-term. This includes looking at ways to disrupt the traditional sport system, embracing multisport initiatives and being as innovative and inclusive as possible. By articulating goals and then working to achieve them, organizations can create opportunities that haven’t even been thought of yet. 

Best practices

  • Sport Nova Scotia created a regional multisport programs for 5 to 7-year-olds, which has now expanded from an original program in Antigonish to 9 locations across Nova Scotia. It allows the participants to experience 10 different sports in 9 months.

  • Nakkertok Nordic Ski Club aims to achieve excellence in cross-country skiing, and to attract new participants to the sport. By broadening their base and moving to be more inclusive with their programming, Nakkertok embodies Quality Sport ideals that will have lifelong implications for the club and its members. It’s this sort of forward-thinking innovation we’re all striving for.

  • West Vancouver Field Hockey has over 1600 participants, and none of them are ever cut from their teams. With a focus on retaining players, the club has restructured their competitive structures to ensure every player is being challenged and having a Quality Sport experience.

 Using Competition Intentionally for Development

Traditional forms of competition have their place, but many sport organizations have modified their programming to better engage their participants and more effectively support athlete development. If decisions are made based on development outcomes, the focus will no longer be on winning and losing. Instead, the primary intent will be to encourage development in the players on either side. 

Best Practices

  • Freestyle Canada’s Freestylerz Festival is a turnkey skill developing competition for Learn to Train athletes age 8-plus.

  • Ontario Soccer’s Festivals are the approved competition format for U8 players. A comprehensive guide to grassroots skill development and Festival organization and rules can be found at the link below.

  • Quebec Sport Cycling Federation (FQSC) uses skills competitions or “Jeux d’habilites” for young racer development.

A Commitment to Sport for All

In the past, sport has been inaccessible to a number of different populations, including women and girls, people with disabilities, newcomers to Canada and people from Indigenous communities. A Quality Sport program relies on being as inclusive and accessible as possible, which means making modifications to programming to welcome everyone. Here are some ways Canadian organizations are committing to sport for all. 

Best Practices

  • Through True Sport’s Community Connections: Welcome to Winnipeg program, Syrian refugees and other newcomers to Canada are exposed to the transformative power of sport through inclusive sport programming.

  • Youths from underprivileged families or environments are three to four times more likely to fall behind in elementary and high school, so Pour 3 Points coaches helps them gain the skills needed to succeed in school and life. They help children develop sport skills and engage in healthy competition.

  • Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation (TIRF) is a rugby-centred community development organization that uses rugby as a tool for social good. TIRF, a registered non-profit founded in 2011, builds community through rugby in 31 of Toronto’s underserved, low-income and priority neighbourhoods.

  • Fitspirit aims to help teenage girls to be physically active throughout their lives and to create unforgettable experiences for them by building a community of inspirational, committed individuals around them.


Partnerships that Prioritize Development Needs

Without the proper planning and infrastructure in place, it’s difficult for an organization to grow. Quality Sport organizations understand the importance of having the proper facilities, programming and resources to attract new participants. They work to capitalize on opportunities and innovate whenever possible. 

Best Practices

  • The Calgary Sport Hub program is a cross sectoral collaboration targeted to lower-income areas. The concept is to create sport hubs which brings community sport groups into schools to deliver a variety of different sport experiences.

  • Moresports works to support an active, inclusive and enriched life for children and youth, irrespective of ability to pay or play, within the diverse communities of a city. Based on principles of healthy child development, it builds leadership and life skills through a number of hubs across the Lower Mainland of BC.

Programs and Resources 


Calgary Sport Hub and Moresports  

The Calgary Sport Hub program is a cross sectoral collaboration between City of Calgary Recreation, Calgary Board of Education, local sport clubs, and community groups who are committed to working together to meet daily physical activity requirements through Quality Sport Experiences in schools. Targeted to lower-income areas, the concept is to create “sport hubs” which brings community sport groups into schools to deliver a variety of different sport experiences, and give students an opportunity to develop a broad range of sport skills. Each hub’s program is carefully planned and follows Long-Term Development principles to layer sport skill development over a period of years. The Calgary Sport Hub program is a leading example of municipal recreation, school board and community sport partnership to deliver inclusive, multi-sport experiences to lower-income children.  To learn more:

SIRCuit: Trauma-informed sport program

The overall purpose of trauma-informed programming is to provide individuals experiencing such challenges with the opportunity to develop skills that will help them improve their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors. Bergholz and colleagues identified a number of principles that are critical in the development of a trauma-informed sport program. The sport program must:

  1. Place an emphasis on creating a physically and emotionally safe environment;
  2. Be designed for long-term engagement, rather than short, one-off programs;
  3. Create opportunities for the development of meaningful relationships with others;
  4. Have a supportive structure (e.g., rules of play, planned predictable activities/schedule, reasonable ratio between coaches and athletes); and
  5. Integrate local cultural practices (e.g. local practices for healing from trauma).

Trauma-informed sport programs are important given that a significant percentage of youth will be exposed to some form of trauma; sport is the most popular extra-curricular activity amongst youth in Canada and hence a great opportunity to reach large numbers of youth; and evidence suggests that physical movement is an important component of the healing process (Bergholz et al., 2016; D’Andrea, Bergholz, Fortunato & Spinazzola, 2013).

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