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Modified Sports

Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Updated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Last updated: 13 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Modified sports can take many forms but are generally designed to introduce—or to be a more accessible version of—a sport. Programs may focus on children, mature-age participants, persons with disability, the time poor, or people looking for more social (less competitive) opportunities.

Modified sports also help to develop general movement skills and basic techniques. Modified equipment and rules are used because of the developmental stage (age, physical size, motor skill proficiency) of participants.

Background

Traditionally, many modified sports have been aimed at children as part of the pathway to future engagement in specific sports. However, modified sports are increasingly targeting other sectors of the population and may suit people's needs throughout different life and activity stages.

Modified sports programs may be delivered through clubs, schools, or community organisations, generally in collaboration with a national or state sporting organisation. Although modified sports have existed for many years, the AUSSIE Sport program (1985-1995) encouraged NSOs to develop suitable age-appropriate versions of their sport. Modified sports were also a key feature of the Australian Sports Commission's Active After-school Communities (AASC) program (2005-2014). This process has continued with the current Sporting Schools program which launched in 2015.

More information about the legacy of ASC's programs can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topics, AUSSIE Sports and Active After-school Communities.

Why modify a sport?

Modifying a sport allows the governing organisation to offer a single product (i.e. sport) in several different (but related) formats to suit a wide range of needs.

Modified sports provide a structured, age and developmental skills-appropriate way of introducing sports, although the element of 'competition' may be de-emphasised. In practice, modified sports offer a fun and socially relevant activity that is designed to develop movement skills and encourage participation in the targeted sport, and a wide rage of sports in general.

Children
Modified sports programs for children are designed to provide an introduction to the sports they represent.

People with disability
Modifying a sport to make it more inclusive for persons with disability is a fundamental part of the Paralympic movement.

Gender
The rules governing a sport can also be modified to be gender inclusive.

Social sport
Aimed at providing faster, less formal, and more social formats.

Learn more

Modified sports programs

Many National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) have developed ‘branded’ junior or introductory programs that feature modifications to rules, facility requirements, and equipment. In general, these programs feature elements of structured skill development, with an emphasis on having fun. Competition is less important than social interaction and developing an affinity for the sport.

Modified sports programs have created new opportunities for NSOs to recruit sponsors targeting specific markets (e.g. youth, women, or mature-aged participants), as well as partnering with school and community-based organisations to deliver their programs beyond the club-based network. Many of these programs have integrated the sponsor’s brand, offering promotional incentives, product give-aways, competitions, and prizes. Increasingly, these programs have an online presence with websites specifically developed to attract participants and promote the sport’s suite of programs.

Is this information complete?

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