XTND – A Success Story for Clubs

Anna RobertsonAuckland-Northland, Central-Wellington, e-News, Education, Midlands, Regional, South Island, XTND Youth Leadership Programme

The increasing number of gymsports clubs using the XTND Youth Leadership Programme are developing young people as coaches to support and grow their programmes. A record 245 young coaches were enrolled in the programme in 2016 with two new clusters in Central Otago and Dunedin starting. This number is expected to continue to rise over the coming years as more regions pick up the XTND programme.

The coach education pathway for young teenagers and was introduced to meet the specific learning needs of young people by delivering learning little and often, and in a friendly environment with fellow peers. There is also a large emphasis on developing leadership skills which are essential for young people in particular, to become successful coaches.  XTND better prepares young coaches for the adult learning pathway and can subsequently attend the Elementary level courses at the age of 16 – an full year advantage over non-XTND coaches.

Teenage coaches in the club environment

Clubs are looking to high schools as a source of coaches as many volunteer-based clubs are finding parent availability for after school coaching has dropped due to increased work commitments.  High school students can often fill this gap though it does require clubs to change their thinking around recruitment and retention strategies.  Clubs that are adapting to these changes and using XTND are also forming a strong and sustainable coaching base, fuelling growth of their club moving forward.

Here are some ways that success is being achieved:

  • Volunteering (and even employees) is viewed as a continual cycle of people in and out and planning is put in place for this. People are less likely to commit to any organisation (paid or non-paid) for long periods of time. This includes adult coaches, committees, and other volunteers, so planning for and working with this is key.
  • A new intake of 3-5 XTND coaches each year creates a supply of trained and experienced coaches at the age of 16-18 before they potentially move on to tertiary education. It is much better to have trained and experienced coaches for a couple of years than none at all.
  • Accessing external funding for XTND courses makes XTND a low-cost investment. Programmes in the teenage space is a key priority for most funders.


Here is an example of how clubs can use a cycle of XTND coaches:

  • Year 9 XTND Year 1 – paired with another XTND coach or responsible for supervising a station.
  • Year 10 XTND Year 2 – responsible for a station or a group, assisting with warm-up.
  • Year 11 XTND Year 3 and/or Elementary Sport Course – coaching a group and leading warm-ups.
  • Year 12 – responsible for running and overseeing a class. Adult mentor should be present for at least some sessions.
  • Year 13 – build on year 12 responsibility. Should have an adult mentor but this person does not have to be at the class.


A win for both the Club and XTND Coach

XTND coaches view the programme as a good way to learn new skills and gain invaluable experience for their young CV’s. XTND coaches do not need to have a gymnastics background to enrol in the programme, so advertising through local high schools can also be successful.  Other youth programmes such as The Duke of Edinburgh have a volunteer component and some XTND coaches with no gymnastics background have come via this programme and have stayed on coaching.

When the XTND Youth Leadership Programme is used to its full potential within a club, it is a win-win for both club and coach, as has been proven already by clubs in the programme.

“XTND is a really good program. It has helped our quieter competition athletes gain confidence and communicate with others. The XTND coaches are full of ideas and add a lot of value to the classes.” – Lynette Farkash, Manager Mid-Island GymSports. (MIGS currently has 11 XTND coaches in the programme.)

Read also about the fun had at the XTND Year 2 Camp at Hunua Falls last month.