What We Must Learn From Nitro Athletics

Can the Nitro Concept Work With Kids?

Nitro Athletics exploded onto the Australian Athletics scene during February.

The Nitro Athletics concept, led by Usain Bolt, saw Australian and international athletics stars compete across three nights in Melbourne in a modified, points-based, team-focused competition.

The teams included Australia, the Bolt All-Stars, China, Japan, England and New Zealand. The  athletes competed in events such as 60m and 150m sprints, a 2 x 300m relay, a 3 minute distance challenge (where the women run for 3 minutes then the men do the same from their finish point), the elimination mile (where the last runner is eliminated after the 1st, 2nd and 3rd laps) and a target javelin.

Why did it work?

The three nights had a real energy and buzz about them. Besides its novelty, I believe important to the event’s success was:

  1. Usain Bolt leading the way and putting on a great show as the star athlete and the Bolt All-Stars team captain. What better boost is there than the world’s greatest track and field star endorsing such a new and cutting-edge concept?
  2. The athletes took their performances seriously. They were clearly motivated to score points to score points for their team.
  3. The athletes looked like they loved it.

As did the audience.

What we can learn?

What can those of us involved in kid’s sport learn from such a successful experiment?

  1. If this fun, team-based concept was so successful with elite athletes, surely it would be a huge hit with kids. The modified, points-based, fast-paced competition is something of which coaches, parents and kid’s sports organizations must take note. Kids in Australia are now aware of Nitro and how athletics can be. This is what they will want, and we had better be ready.
  2. Kelvin Giles (@kbgiles) recently wrote on Twitter: “Make sure you have considered everything inside the box before spending too much time thinking outside it.” Traditional athletics has pretty much exhausted everything inside the box, so the time was right to for “outside the box” thinking – and it worked.
  3. We saw that elite athletes can compete seriously and perform well while having fun. What an important lesson for anyone involved in kid’s sport.

Everyone in the athletics world needs to stand up and take notice of the effect that Nitro Athletics had on the sport, the spectators and the participants. Coaches, sports parents and sports organizations can take away a lot from what we have seen. We can learn from the success of the team competitions, point scores and non-traditional athletics events, be inspired to be more inventive with what we do, and ultimately remember that sport can be – and should be – fun.

Let me know your thoughts

What is your verdict on Nitro Athletics? Did you see it? What can we learn from it? Would the Nitro concept work with kids? You can let me know by using the contact details below.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin , Anchor or via email.

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