Seventy percent of kids will quit youth sports by age 13. A Michigan State study revealed this very sobering statistic in 2004. If there are 15 kids on your son or daughter’s basketball team today, at least 10 of them will quit sports altogether before high school. Is your kid one of the 10 who will give up?
Are there signs? What can be done to make sure your child still wants to participate and get the most out of youth sports? We’ll explore the warning signs in this post and what parents and coaches can do to improve the youth sports experience for kids.
Warning Sign #1: Slipping Grades
Kids have always been and will always be smarter than we give them credit for. Most parents allow their kids to participate in sports as long they keep their grades up. Substandard grades will get a kid pulled from the team and they know it. Grades may not slip to a failing level, but may fall just enough to get them away from the team and the sport they no longer enjoy.
Warning Sign #2: Nagging Injuries
Playing through pain may be the sign of a true warrior, but it may also be the sign of a kid ready to hang ’em up. Injuries are a part of sports, but a 10-year-old probably will not see the value in playing through chronic knee, shoulder or back pain. They are young, but not invincible. Rest and recovery are extremely important to an athlete’s success.
Warning Sign #3: Oops! I Left My [Blank] at Home
Kids are forgetful and they’ll likely leave something important at home at one time or another, but watch out when Suzy consistently forgets things that will undoubtedly get her benched. You can’t swim without a suit, can’t catch without a glove and you can’t sprint without spikes. This passive-aggressive approach often works because the frustrated parent will yell, “If you can’t remember the stuff you need to play the sport, then maybe you don’t need to play the sport!” Suzy’s thoughts exactly.
Warning Sign #4: School Comes First
Sounds strange, but hear me out. It’s different than number one on this list. Young athletes juggle crazy schedules now more than ever. They do homework in the car, projects at the bus stop and read flashcards while waiting for their turn at batting practice. They usually do whatever they can do get schoolwork done so they can play.
Every kid has that one assignment during the school year where they can’t help missing a practice or a game. On the other hand, when Johnny routinely asks to skip practices and/or games to get school work done, you may have a future ex-athlete on your hands more so than a budding scholar.
Warning Sign #5: Comfortable as a Benchwarmer
There’s always the kid who doesn’t play much, but does everything he or she can to get in the game. In this case, I’m talking about a different type of kid - the one who’s hiding at the far end of the bench – as far away the from coach as possible.
He and the water cooler have become joined at the hip. He doesn’t want anyone to see him nor call his name. In football, he has his helmet off. In baseball, he never has his glove handy. He never has a bat ready to go. If he’s a basketball player, he may look something like this guy.
Now that we know the warning signs, what can parents and coaches do to improve the youth sports experience for kids? Download Through A Child’s Eyes: A Parents’ Guide to Improving Youth Sports and follow the instructions and you’ll be well on your way. Everyone has a role in sports. This guide defines them clearly for kids and adults.
This blog is provided by the National Sportsmanship Foundation.