According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports 70% of children in USA are dropping out of organized sports by the age of 13. So what are the main reasons that kids turn away from sports at a time when they could benefit from them the most?
1. It’s no longer fun
Actually, the #1 reason why kids quit sports. When it comes to sports fun is defined by kids as trying their best, being treated respectfully by coaches, parents and teammates, and getting playing time. If young athletes are not having fun during sports classes, they will eventually walk away, regardless of talent or how good their team or coach is.
Solution: It always has to be fun, bringing joy and excitement! Remember that your athlete is never too old, or too talented, to answer the question “Are you enjoying yourself out there?” And if it stops being fun, you need to figure out a way to make it fun, or before you know it, early retirement!
2. They lose ownership of the experience
If you find yourself saying “we performed great at the meet” or “we scored…”, or coaching your child and telling him how he can do better, you are stealing ownership of the experience from your child. When our kids' sports life becomes more about us and our needs, then we've crossed the line. So many kids just leave sports and look for a place where their actions, accomplishments and mistakes are not scrutinized by parents.
Solution: Help them find their goals, instead of trying to determine it for them. Cheer them positively, never criticize and leave coaching to coaches giving kids a chance to be successful on their own.
3. The pressure to perform only increases
Performance pressure is one of the main reasons why young athletes dropout. This is often linked with injuries that can result from overtraining due to pressure to perform and achieve from a young age. This is absolutely mirrored and reinforced in school, where the environment is increasingly test and outcome-driven. Teenagers generally find themselves with more and more challenging work - at school, at the gym and even at home. Besides, at their teens kids become more influenced by their friends, many of whom are also walking away from organized youth sports.
Solution: Prioritize enjoyment in training and competition, praise effort more than outcomes. When coaches and parents focus on the required effort (that will ultimately lead to success) it allows kids to take the pressure off, build the right skills and ultimately enjoy their sport for years to come.
Conclusion: As parents, we need to check our ego and remember that it’s our kids’ time. It’s all about them, not about us or our ideas of what we want for them. Your kid should always see the same you. Win or lose, when they look up, make sure you’re there with an encouraging smile. Parent-child relationships definitely win if parents keep their eye on the bigger picture, setting the goal as a happy, healthy, confident, well-adjusted, self-supporting adult with a life they are passionate about.