Why Kids Quit Sports

The Hidden Secrets to Why Kids Quit Sports

Playing sports teaches our kids life lessons, but today, 70% of kids quit sports by the age of thirteen. We’re going to Coach Jim and Coach Steve from Coach Baseball Right to talk about the hidden secrets to why kids quit sports and how we, as parents or coaches, can change our strategies to encourage and motivate them in the right way.

The shocking trend is that most kids quit sports before high school. Many kids give up because they don’t view it as fun or do not get along with the coach. How can we dads encourage our own athletes or coach a whole team?

We all have the best intentions with our kids, but what if our encouraging words weren’t so encouraging, and what we’re saying isn’t what they’re hearing? What if we actually put more pressure on them?

Where We Get It Wrong

We want kids to win. Of course, we do. We shout in the stands and push them to work hard, but we make a mistake when we focus on the result. There will be inevitable losses and disappointments. When our kids feel the only point of playing sports is competing and winning, they lose interest when they can’t meet these expectations. The best way to begin changing this mindset is to ask ourselves, what do we want our kids to get out of sports?

In the popular youth sports culture today, many parents want kids to play sports for the future. They use games and events as a place to showcase their kid’s skills. They make sure their children are among the best players to have better chances for exposure to get into college. It’s not even about the team anymore, but the individual.

This takes the fun out of sports. The things parents hope they’re going to achieve and the money they’re spending for a collegiate sport experience are often unrealistic. Most kids will not grow up to be a professional athlete, and it might be better to ease up on the performance pressure and focus on enjoying the journey.

We Miss What Sport Can Do for Our Kids

The real reason for getting our kids into sports is to see that they’re happy, healthy, and running around. They are experiencing difficult life lessons, learning to be part of a team, and learning how to win and lose.

For many parents, the instinct is to protect kids from feeling failure or disappointment. Other parents go crazy in the stands and want their kids to win no matter what.  Some parents feel shame or anger when their kids lose. They feel it’s a reflection on them and their parenting. This type of approach to sports is damaging. Children need to fail to learn. They also need to know they are loved and valued whether they win or lose. Winning is great, but not the most important thing. The key is to set helpful expectations.

Parents need to check their ego

As parents, we need to check our ego and remember that it’s not our time. It’s our kids’ time. It’s all about them, not about us or our ideas of what we want for them.

Anticipate beforehand that our kid is going to make mistakes, and whenever they do, they’re going to look up at us to see our reaction. No matter what happens, the most important thing to remember is this:

Your kid should always see the same you. Win or lose, when they look up, make sure you’re there with an encouraging smile.

We shouldn’t tell them where they went wrong, or berate them for mistakes. They will not take a chance on a shot or play if we look upset with their performance. We must simply enjoy the game, and be there for them. When it’s over, say “I really enjoyed watching you play.” Kids need to know the most important thing is 100% effort, and that we had fun and are proud of them for taking risks and giving it their all.

Our Monumental Roles as Mentors and Coaches

We undervalue the impact we have on kids’ lives, but just think about the impact coaches and mentors have had on your development. How did the good ones help you? How did the bad ones affect you? We need a better awareness of the cost of the decisions we’re making so that we’re more mindful of how we behave.

We must take the higher road for our kids. Our coaching should leave them so that they want more at the end of a season, not be glad that it’s over.

Coaches need to have honest talks with parents about expectations. We need to help all those people who are well-meaning but got it all wrong. There’s human way to handle it and a right way. Our children are watching how we behave. We need to set an honorable example.

Know why you’re there

Sports are to help kids prepare for life. Yes, we want to win, but we must focus on developing our kids. If we know why we’re there – to enjoy the ups and downs, the challenges, and the learning process – all our actions will fall into place. We’ll be aware of when we’re hard on our kids for making mistakes, and this will keep the ego in check. We need to give kids the chance to be successful on their own.

Don’t miss the teachable moments

There are opportunities to teach when bad things happen. We don’t want to miss the chance to use them as a lesson and set a good example. We must take advantage of a teachable moment. After the game, we can share what we did and why.

Dad Wisdom

From Coach Steve: Don’t try to keep your kids from failing. Just be there for them.

From Coach Jim: Try to see the world from your kids’ eyes. Things will go smoother and you can enjoy being a dad more.


Referenced episode: Breaking the World of Impossible with Todd Stottlemyre


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