Almost every child who grows up loving a sport eventually decides to quit. Some kids decide to stick it out until the end of high school. Others continue playing through their college years and quit upon graduating. Very few actually become professional athletes, so it’s pretty important to accept that eventually your child will probably end up quitting their sport. That being said, it’s really important to pay attention to the reason your child wants to quit.
Why kids decide to quit their sport
Some reasons are simply unavoidable and well justified. Sometimes, they decide that other hobbies are more important and more fun, so they quit to make time for other activities. Sometimes, they quit to get more serious about their education and their grades. Maybe, they simply don’t enjoy the sport anymore. These are all valid reasons that are, for the most part, unavoidable. If your child decides to quit for one of these reasons, there’s not much you can do, or should do, to change their mind.
When kids get burn out
On the other hand, many children decide to quit because they are completely and entirely burnt out. According to Beth Sitzler from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), “Burnout is a response to chronic stress of continued demands in a sport or activity without the opportunity for physical and mental rest and recovery.” When athletes work too hard for too long, they burn out, lose motivation, and often quit.
Most middle school students practice their sport for at least 10 hours a week. These practices are usually geared toward improving and winning and place very little importance on fun. It makes sense then that kids burn out so easily and 70% of quit sports by the age of 13.That being said, burnout is completely avoidable, and you can do something to stop or reverse it.
How to avoid burnout
Unfortunately, youth sports today are more demanding and competitive than ever and place little importance on fun. One of the best ways to avoid burnout is by putting the fun back into your child’s sport. You might ask, “How can I do that when I’m not the coach?” There are many sports programs all around the world that are designed to inspire kids rather than work them to the bone. Many programs give kids the chance to visit new countries, make friends with other international students, and practice their sport in a whole new way. This could be the perfect solution to curing your child’s burn out and inspiring them to enjoy their sport again.
Signs your child is burnt out
- Your child isn’t improving at the rate they used to, or they’re starting to play worse.
- Your child doesn’t have the same stamina they used to and is often fatigued.
- Your child has a higher resting heart rate and/or high blood pressure.
- Your child’s school work is starting to suffer because they have a hard time focusing.
- Your child is getting sick more often as a result of a suppressed immune system.
- Your child seems more moody, disinterested, or irritable than usual.
If your child is experiencing a couple of these symptoms, it’s likely that they’re burnt out. Talk to your child and find out. If they are burnt out, it might be a good idea to send them to a fun sports program. More than likely, they’ll come home with a renewed love for their sport.
Carmen Agra works for Ertheo Education and Sports Agency where she shares information and advice to help young athletes reach their full potential as both athletes and scholars. In her free time, she enjoys reading other blogs about child development, health, youth sports, and education.