70% of children leave organized sports by the age 13, according to research by the National Alliance for Sports.
Let's put it this way: If your daughter or son plays on a soccer team, seven out of 10 of the members of that team won't be playing soccer or any organized sport whatsoever by the time they enter their teenage years.
The decision itself means very little, what should we ask ourselves is:
- Do they have enough determination for any type of activity that involves perseverance?
- Will they drop for good physical activity in general?
- Was it our behavior or lack of support that lead to their decision or is it just the fact that millennials are different than we were?
Let’s see first what our kids responded in a recent study regarding the motifs of dropping out of sports.
1. Not having fun.
Almost equally, the girls and the boys said that lack of fun is the biggest reason for dropping out of sports.
What to do:
Maybe dropping out might be due to factors such as inflexible practice routines, and strict rules and guidelines which take away the fun part of participating.
Or maybe, the child is not used to persevere in activities when things become a little more harder.
If it just boredom, encourage the child to finish the season and explain him that good things comes with effort and effort sometimes could mean to get also through boredom or routine. If he really doesn’t like it or the training is not organized properly, than show the child understanding, explain him that giving up for objective reasons it doesn’t make you a loser. Maybe you can find a more recreative club in which to play for passion not as a profession. The important thing here is to not lose forever the pleasure of physical activity and to keep the joy for sports.
2. Anxiety and nervousness due to excessive criticism.
Children can experience undue criticism, and pressure from parents and coaches to perform their best, win every game, compete so they can earn honors and recognition, and perhaps compete for college scholarships. In these situations, children may enjoy the game less and suffer anxiety due to the fear of making mistakes and may feel disrespected in terms of being appreciated for their abilities, as opposed to the mistakes they make. In turn, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt - I’m not good enough - which could carry over to other life situations.
What to do:
Look back to your actions to see your personal behavior and see if you were too harsh on the performance aspect, than talk to the child, explain honestly what you think that might have happened and ask him to give it another chance, only if he thinks he likes that sport. Always admit when you were wrong.
3. Pressure from the coaches or not getting along with coaches.
Some coaches have poor communication skills which may lead athletes to choose to abandon participation.
What to do:
This is an objective reason to give up, but there are also solutions, for example, to search for other clubs where he will find a better coach. Anyways, don’t take for granted that adults are always right, because they are not, either they are parents or coaches.
Discuss with the child and really listen what he is saying about pressure or pushing too hard behavior if the coach.
4. Parental pressures and loss of ownership.
Excessive parental involvement and guidance can lead children to feeling a lack of ownership of their own motivations or sport participation experiences.
In some cases, children are pressured to participate because their parents are living out their own fantasies through their children, or the parents gain status or recognition from their children’s participation. Often children feel pressured to succeed because they do not want to let their parents down or disappoint them.
What to do:
Show unconditional love and explain that you will be there unconditionally, whatever he decides to choose. And…Don’t be sooooo present in all his activities. Give space but also give support. Help him when he asks you, but don’t take over the whole process. Congratulate the child for the success, but never condition love to the performance.
5. Not having enough time to participate in other age appropriate activities.
Deep, structured involvement with one activity may take about time from socializing, hanging out, being with friends, interacting with members of the opposite sex. This may be especially critical in the decisions of children once they reach middle school.
What to do:
Well…it’s his call now. You have to encourage him to keep being involved in sports, not from a professional perspective, but as a sports lover.