Many youth sports players are signed up by mom and dad to play sports without asking the potential young athlete the most important question, “Do you REALLY want to play Sport X?” Like me, moms and dads assume their kids will love everything they loved and played in their youth. NOT!
Communication is key in any relationship, especially with your children and family. You may think little Johnny loves baseball, but you need to ask him first. Use your indoor words and ask the tough question; do you want to play baseball? Has he ever caught the ball or hit a ball yet? Sally may hate basketball and love volleyball but you never knew before asking her. Did you know she plays volleyball at Jane’s will everyone else plays PIG? Like me, you may have had a brief conversion with your child and then signed them up for Sports before knowing if they have any “real” aptitude or desire to play the sport. And really, desire is more important than aptitude. But, both are very important in your mutual decision to sign up and play the sport.
Let’s say you signed your child up to play a sport, and after the first or second week of practice they are constantly complaining about playing and wanting to quit. Here are a few signs that your child may want to quit a sport. Certainly I am not a child psychologist but these signs are from my experience as a youth sports coach; flag football, tackle football, t-ball, baseball, basketball, and racquetball. I am sure there are many more quitting signs and tweaks to each sign.
Signs Your Child May Want to Quit a Sport
- They ask / tell you they want to Quit, especially repeatedly after first two weeks
- Complaining that they are not as good as the other players
- They say they HATE the Sport X
- Constant Crying before or during practice
- They say they are too small
- Hiding or Hiding equipment before practice
- Not getting ready to go to practice, trying to be late
- Sick or Pretending to be sick on practice days
- Lying about practice days and times
- Begging not to go to practice
- Skips practices
- Good Grade to Bad Grades
- Wetting the Bed or themselves
- Does not participate in practice drills and sits out
- Will not make friends on the team
- Complains about Coach, Players and Practice
- Depression, i.e. they do not want to get out of bed
- Tell you they are not having any fun
- They do not want to talk about the Sport
- They are now angry at you all the time
If your child communicates to you they would like to quit and or are displaying any of these “quitting” signs, especially 2 or 3 more at a time, then your child may really want to quit the sport. As loving parents, you should sit down without the TV on and discuss with your child why they are unhappy, how you can help them, and if they are asking to quit, do they really want to quit. If it’s the first or second week of practices and they are rookies, it may be rookie jitters. But if this quitting behavior continues past the 2nd or 3rd week, then I would consider setting up a meeting with your head coach to discuss your situation and how he and his coaching staff can help motivate your child to play or if the coaches also agree with your child that quitting might be the best decision for them this season. Parents please don’t quit and stop showing up to practices and games without communicating with your head coach. Once again, please Communicate. Emails are easy as a last resort.
If your child’s team is a team sport, you should set up a meeting with the head coach and discuss your options, because your child’s decision to quit the team will affect the team not just your child you’re your family. Don’t be selfish; think about the other 10 to 25 players on the Team. If your child really wants to quit and you have discussed the issues with your child and the team’s head coach, don’t be selfish and force your desires on your child if everyone but you agrees that your child should consider another hobby or sport for this season. It is unfair to the Team, not to mention your child, to force your child to do something that they really do not enjoy and especially on a team because your child will not give the team 100%.
If you are worried about the money, many youth sports leagues, will refund a percentage of the registration fee prior to the first game. You can easily sell use sports equipment on Criagslist, garage sales, or donate the equipment to the league or Goodwill to take off your taxes. Your decision to allow your child to quit a sport should not be about the money but your child’s desires to be happy and have fun. Asking your child to do something they hate or scared of 3 times a week is a waste of happiness. And really what is the price of happiness.
It may be a surprise to many parents, but our children are not us. I know, I know that’s a huge ego bust for us. It was for me. I just can’t believe my son hits a baseball better than I ever thought possible as a little leaguer but he did not want to be Jack Lambert as I hoped for in youth football. Instead he played Quarterback and was reserved but very competitive in his mother’s way, but I wanted him to be more aggressive like me. Why doesn’t he talk smack like Bill Romanowski and get into players heads like I did? Why doesn’t he just love to hit to hit? He would rather throw beautiful spirals for touchdowns and not eat QBs lunch. Urgghh. I hated it. I wanted him to be the “better me” than I was as a player. Yes, I wanted him to be Super Steve, not Berndt “Bear” Parker.
It hurt when I realized Bear was not going to be Super Steve. He would always be Bear Parker from Denver, Colorado. Not Super Steve from Texas, a Texan. Wow, then I found out he may be smarter than I am too. Talk about a hit to the ego.
I never “really” asked Bear or Zane if they liked to play football. I just signed them up. I am thankful that they love to play football. I am still frustrated they would rather do kid things like play XBox and Swim rather than training to become the next Roger Staubach, Randy White, Charlie Waters or even Hollywood Henderson. These are the players Steve wanted to become and never did because he always wanted to do kid things too.
After playing soccer for two years, Zane my youngest son quit playing soccer his 5U season. He was asked to play on a developmental Select soccer team after this season, but he told us he hated playing soccer and did not want to play anymore. Zane was a very good soccer player in Kindergarten, I did not like soccer at the time, but loved watching him play. I personally wanted him to continue playing soccer because I thought he was a natural. Everyone in our family was upset about Zane not playing soccer but Zane. Zane wanted to play tackle football and do kid things. Everyone told us to force Zane to play soccer but I did not sign him up. This Spring Bear and I talked Zane into playing recreational Soccer to cross train for football. Zane agreed and now Zane loves playing soccer. He was invited to practice with a Select team this summer and really had fun. Now Zane wants us to pay for private soccer coaching so he can try out for Select soccer. He also wants to continue playing tackle football.
But, what would I have done if Zane or Bear wanted to quit football during a football season. Well, that depends on many things but for football the main question after asking them if they really want to play or quit, a parent must HONESTLY ask themselves and their youth football player, do you like to hit and get hit? Are they too scared to hit and will they get hurt? Are they half the size or smaller than the biggest player on the team? Do they cry before every football practice and beg not to go to practice? Or do they pretend to be sick before every practice. If this was going on and I felt Zane or Bear were going to get hurt because they did not want to play, I would have allowed them to quit. My child’s safety comes first.
At the end of the day, youth sports is all about making my children happy. If my kids are unhappy, then I am unhappy.
Fort Worth, Texas