Kids quit playing sports for lots of reasons. In fact, 70% stop playing by the age of 13 (National Alliance for Sports).
If your child starts a sport, there’s a good chance that sooner or later, he will claim, “I want to quit!”
What will you do when he does?
Before you help him decide if he really does want to give up the sport, it might be good to understand just why he’s ready to quit. Pinpointing one of these reasons will help you figure out what to do.
- Burnout. This seems to be happening more and more as parents push, prod, and try to keep their kids busy, busy, busy.
- Embarrassment. Maybe your child doesn’t play enough, or at all, or maybe he doesn’t like making mistakes in front of a bunch of people.
- Coach frustration. It could be your young athlete doesn’t like the coach, feels like he can’t please him, or does not understand what the coach expects of him. Or maybe the coach is showing favoritism–subtle or not.
- Team dislike. It’s pretty common to dislike one or two or three players on a team, but your child may be on a team where he feels like a total outsider.
- No fun. The reasons for this may be connected to all ten of these quitting excuses. Or it may be your child does not like the sport or they don’t like the hard work involved.
- Lack of improvement. Part of the fun in playing sports is seeing progress. Maybe your child has a coach who is not really helping him build skills. Or maybe he just doesn’t have the natural ability it takes to play a certain sport. Nobody likes to keep working at something when they don’t feel they are getting better at it.
- Too much pressure. Your young athlete may feel stressed because he is under pressure to perform–from you, the coach, or his team.
- Unrealistic Expectations. Your child may have started a sport with huge expectations: I’m gonna be a star. I will be a starting player in high school. I will get attention from my peers and teachers. I will be a jock. Then reality sets in and sometimes it really sucks.
- Criticism. Sit in the stands long enough and you’ll know that people can be very critical of athletes on the field. It’s amazing to me how parents can be so harsh on kids who make a bad pass or drop a ball or make a mental error. Add to that the pressure of when an athlete gets recognized in the paper; he then becomes fair game for those who will take cheap shots while hiding behind their blogger identities.
- Other interests. Maybe your child would rather try music or drama. Maybe he wants to try a different sport. When kids get to high school, they often give up sports for a job; they want to earn an income and gain more independance.
If your child chooses to quit, it’s not the end of the world. It may be the end of your dreams for your child, but it’s not the end of his.
Allow him to process his reasons so that he will decide whether quitting is really the choice he wants to make.
(Post coming 7/15: What should you do when your child wants to quit a sport?)