Kids Drop Out of Sports Too Quick
Around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore” says the Washington Post.*
Remember those days when your kid was running around the field laughing with her/his friends? There is a time for every kid when playing sports really is fun. Today, that is before the age of 11 or 12. See “Tweens Is the Best Time to Build Mental Skills.” And then by the time they are 13 years of age, 70% drop out. What is happening and what are the ramifications of it for sports and life?
“Because it really is just not fun anymore.” In fact, it much resembles work. Kids ages11-13 spend all day in school, most if not all afternoon-early evening participating in sports, and all night doing homework. If we think about it from only that perspective kids are going, doing, and ‘working’ all day long.
So, it turns out that kids don’t have the balance in their life that they need. My younger clients frequently talk about how they miss hanging out with their friends doing ordinary things like going to the movies. Some take a break from their sport to have time to hang out with their friends. That time can be good and bad. Good because they have time to do ‘other’ things but bad because a big part of their identity is missing, and in the back of their mind, they fear they’ll come back to their sport out of shape and unable to play at the same competitive level.
Pressure and stress of one sport
On top of this, the pressure to specialize in one sport brings with it stress, anxiety, doubt, fear, and a host of other mental challenges that kids can’t deal with because they don’t have the right tools. Kids are hard on themselves. Parents don’t quite understand what’s happening and can be hard on them. And some coaches aren’t sure what’s going on with the child either; they don’t understand or have the time to understand what’s going on with their athletes, and many times, don’t have the skills to help parents maneuver through all of this.
Hating what they love
Working all day, having no balance and trying to figure out how to deal with all the pressure and stress leaves kids hating what they once loved. They can either continue to feel stressed out or dropout. Kids feel like those are the only two options. 70% of kids choose to dropout.
Fortunately, there’s a third option – kids can gain the necessary mental skills they need through mental skills coaching. Kids don’t (really) have to learn how to run around, kick a ball, or throw a basket but they do have to train to do it well, and in addition, they need to develop the proper mental skills to deal with all the stress, pressure, and anxiety that comes along with being an athlete.
Ramifications for the future
1. Kids should not work all day without balance, and feel stuck dealing with the extraordinary stress and pressure, but they are. If they don’t learn the mental skills to deal with difficult situations, they won’t have these tools for normal life situations – going to college, finding a job, or raising a family.
How will that shape their future?
2. If kids don’t learn how to deal with the mental side of sport and they do dropout, we are left with a shortage of college, professional or Olympic athletes.
How will that shape our society?
Dropping out is not the answer
When done the right way, there are so many positives for kids who play sports. It builds courage, character, and a healthy lifestyle for years to come. So in the end, kids want and need to continue to enjoy sports participation, parents need to be less involved personally, and coaches’ need to focus on mastery development: growth, learning and progress.
Bottom Line… Kids first! Winning second!