This is an important question for young athletes. Sports often have a positive influence that lasts a person’s lifetime.
As a coach and a former athlete, you might think I would never say ever quit. But that is not the case. There are times when after careful consideration, it is time to move on.
Consider Pros And Cons
Before an athlete quits, they need to put in time thinking about why they want to quit. Things like bad practices and games or not getting along with a coach or a teammate are generally worth working through and are part of what makes being involved in sports so important.
Sports are also important because they keep a person active. Still, you can stay active doing other non-team activities like running, cycling, skating, hiking, yoga, and golf, to name a few.
If you are trying to decide whether or not you should stay on a team, there are several things that you can do to help you make your decision. First, you might want to talk to a trusted adult and get their input. Then consider the following: Do I have an injury or illness that requires that I stop? Am I having fun? What are my priorities?
Then using the information that you’ve gathered, make a list of the pros and cons to help you decide.
Injury or Illness?
If you have a serious illness or injury that keeps you from playing, you may find it too difficult to be a part of the team. Most coaches want an injured or sick athlete to continue being a part of the team if possible and encourage them to stay. And usually, being a part of a team can help give players support during what can be a difficult time. But if that is not the case for you, you may want to look at your options.
I always encouraged my kids to finish any sport or activity they started. But not every situation is the same, and there are times when they may need to quit for the well-being of an athlete.
My daughter decided to leave her college team a few weeks before the end of her senior season. She had reinjured her knee (she’d had two previous knee surgeries) and could no longer play. With doctor appointments, physical therapy, time at practice, and games, she began falling behind on schoolwork. As Valedictorian of her school, keeping her grades up was important to her, and even though she was injured, her coach wouldn’t allow her to do homework on the sideline or miss parts of practice. After a lot of deliberation, she made one of the most difficult decisions of her life and concluded that basketball was no longer worth it.
Quitting a sport can be a complicated decision, and there is no one answer. So here are several more things to consider during the process.
Are You Having Fun?
Sports should be fun. As an athlete, you will work hard and face challenges, of course, but overall you should like what you’re doing.
I love playing basketball. And when I was in high school and college, I had many challenges along the way. It was a lot of hard work physically; I didn’t always see eye to eye with my coaches. I also had a few challenges with teammates throughout my career. But the bottom line was, I loved to play, so I was willing to work through those challenges.
How do you feel about the sport that you play?
Sometimes it’s not the sport itself, but the competition and the people that make it fun. My son is a collegiate athlete. He runs track, and he complains about it. He says that sprinters do what is considered punishment for athletes of other sports. “All of our practice is like running suicides or worse.” He is known to be a bit dramatic; still, his practices are tough.
He may not love track, but he is very competitive and enjoys the camaraderie of his teammates. That’s what makes the sport fun for him.
Don’t Let One Thing Ruin Your Fun.
Think about your overall experience in your sport; don’t let one part of the experience ruin it for you. If you don’t always agree with your coach, make an effort to reach out and talk to them. If you don’t get along with a teammate, make an effort to get to know them. You might be surprised; you may find a small connection or at least learn to work together for the team’s good.
If things with a teammate are terrible, you may need to talk to your coach, but hopefully, you can learn to get along, just as throughout your lifetime, you will need to learn to get along with different personalities at work and in life.
If you are thinking about quitting your sport, think about the fun factor. If some part of your sport doesn’t make you want to come back for more, maybe it is time to try something else.
What Are Your Priorities?
As you get older, you may have to look at priorities, your priorities. Not your parents or your coaches.
What is important to you? Maybe you enjoy playing softball, but you’d like to try something else. During my daughter’s junior year of high school, she stopped playing softball for the season and was in the school play. She went back to softball her senior year mostly to be with her friends, as she could have lived without softball.
If one sport isn’t your top priority, why not give something else a try. You can always go back and play at some level in the future.
Maybe, you’re thinking about joining the jazz band, but it conflicts with a sport you’re playing. How important is that sport to you? What do you want to do with music? Maybe music is your priority.
When I was in high school, the opposite happened to me. I was a singer in three of our school choirs. I loved to sing, but I realized that I loved basketball more by the time I was a sophomore in high school. As the two activities started to conflict, in time, I had to stop being a part of the choir. I think it’s important to keep variety in life, but eventually, you may have to decide to prioritize one activity over another.
Make a Decision and Move Forward
As you get older, you will have many tough decisions to make, and deciding whether or not to continue playing a sport may be one of your first ones. If that time comes, remember to talk to trusted adults, ask yourself if you are having any fun, look at your priorities, consider the pros and cons, and then make a decision and move forward. Life is full of opportunities; find the ones that you love and go after them.