Why Kids Quit Sports and How to Prevent It

/ / Children's Flag Football, Cities, General

Is your kid thinking about quitting a sport? One of the biggest disappointments for a sports-crazed parent is to hear the echo of your child voicing their desire to quit sports.  Your child’s lack of interest, visible frustration or feelings of inadequacy can be remnants of a poor experience.  A  recent study quoted that 70% of youth drop out of organized sports by the time they reach adolescents.  Youth sports has a multitude of physical and psychological benefits, why then are we losing our kids interests to things such as electronics, social media and other less fulfilling activities?

ITS NO LONGER FUN:  To become proficient at flag football or any other sport, practice and training are needed.  Discipline is also a valuable ingredient for a youth athlete, however, the objective of any youth sports should be to have fun.  In a 2014 study for George Washington University researcher Amanda Visek found that the number one reason that kids choose to play sports is because it’s fun!  When that experience is trampled with, however, attrition rates increase.  One of the most impactful ways to push a child away from sports is pressure.  When kids feel pressured to win, to practice, perform or even diet, the game becomes more of an obligation, rather than a fun experience.  A kid’s experience is dependent upon the win of a trophy.  This is an easy way to turn kids away from sports.  Youth also turn away from sports when they feel as though they are constantly being criticized.  When a child’s experience is characterized by a long car ride home of what they could have done better, interests will also decrease.  Childhood is hallmarked with the shadow of an adult critiquing or constructing a child’s ways.  Sports is and should be an outlet for a child, it should be physically and mentally liberating.  When the experience is overshadowed by criticism, sports no longer remains a safe haven for a child.

Solution:  Rather than solely focusing on a win or lose, emphasize the experience of the game.  Highlight the social opportunity, in which your child is able to build a community outside of school and family.  Additionally, being  a part of the game is an opportunity to praise your kids for their efforts rather than scrutinizing their ability.  Mastering any sport takes practice, which means there is plenty of room to identify your child’s gradual  improvement.

LIVING THROUGH YOUR CHILD Every so often, we look at our children, and see ourselves.  So much so that we try to live through them, and sports is, often times, a channel to do that.   Living through your child’s sports experience is detrimental, because we then steal a child’s authenticity within their own experience.  When a parents wants or needs overshadow the experience of the child, the child is less likely to enjoy the sport, causing them to want to quit. 

Solution:  Encourage your child to maintain their own identity within their athletic experience.  Give them autonomy, by giving them choices, and furthermore, listening to and valuing their choices and opinions.  Allow them to take the lead in their athletic journey.  Should they choose to play multiple sports, encourage their choice.  If your child chooses to take a break, support them. Overall, when your child feels as though they have a hand in their experience, they will feel empowered and are more likely to continue in youth sports.  



Visek, Amanda J. et al., “Fun Integration Theory: Towards Sustaining Children and Adolescents Sport Participation,” Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 2014.