Frank Smoll discusses the dropout problem in youth sports in this Psychology Today post
What Should You Do When Your Kid Wants to Quit Sports?
Tips for dealing with young athletes who want to drop out.
At one time or another and for a variety of reasons, most athletes think about quitting. Sometimes a decision to quit comes as a shock to parents, but at other times the warning signs leading up to it are very clear.
What are the causes of dropping out of youth sports?
In general, the reasons fall into two categories. The first category involves a shift in interests, especially during adolescence. Other involvements, such as a job, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or recreational pursuits may leave little time for sports. In such cases, a youngster may simply choose to set other priorities.
The second category of reasons why kids quit involves negative sport experiences. Research has shown that the following reasons often underlie a decision to drop out:
- Not getting enough playing time.
- Poor relationships with coaches or teammates.
- An overemphasis on winning that creates stress and reduces fun.
- Over-organization, excessive repetition, and regimentation leading to boredom.
- Excessive fear of failure, including frustration or failure to achieve personal or team goals .
What are some tips for resolving the problem?
1. Be proactive.The ideal approach is to prevent the dilemma from occurring. In a New York Times blog, Lisa Belkin recommended developing an anti-quitting plan as an integral part of signing up for a sport. In essence, she advocates forming a contract that includes the following conditions:
- If you commit to a team, you have to complete the season.
- If you want to quit because you’re being hurt, physically or emotionally, then that cancels out the above.
2. It’s very important to find out the reason(s) your child wants to quit.This requires open discussion to probe some ways to resolve the difficulties being experienced. In doing this, Catherine Holecko provided sound advice in her Family Fitness blog. Specifically, she recommends choosing a time and place that’s comfortable to your child, and asking (with sensitivity) some of the following questions:
- You seemed really interested when signing-up. What’s changed?
- Do you remember the two conditions of the contract we made?
- Is there something going on that you’d like to talk about?
- Are you disappointed about your performance, or your team’s?
- Is there something else you prefer to do instead?
- Would you like to play the same sport, but on a different team?
- How do you think your coach/teammates would feel if you quit the team?
Read the entire article here .