My son has played baseball since before he could talk. Sure, he couldn't quite understand the game yet, but he'd swing his plastic big barreled bat and shout something that sounded pretty close to 'homerun!' as he'd take off, waddling his chubby legs around the 10 foot bases in the front yard just before his 'slide' into home.
It was fun to watch him develop his interest in the game his dad grew up devoted to. When he was old enough he started Little League and Dad signed on to coach. As the years went on he learned more and more, and excelled. He became passionate about the game, and soon baseball turned into an all year family commitment. Starting in the spring, going through summer All-Stars and culminating with fall ball. Year after year, we were engrossed with baseball.
We set our sights towards high school ball. Fully aware of the strong competition in the area, my husband helped him work on a strategy to get him through tryouts successfully. The plan was set. We were on target, until the summer before his freshman year, when he shocked us with the news that he had decided to quit the sport he loved.
He was burned out he said, baseball had been the focus of his entire life and now he needed a break. Just before high school though? This is what we've been working towards, now is when the real work begins! Needless to say, my husband was devastated and I wasn't too far behind. Watching him play and later his little brother too, had all but consumed our family, in the best way possible.
However, our son was adamant, so we let him quit. We knew that high school baseball would require much more of him than ever, and if he no longer loved it, there was no point in making him see it through. It was a rough time on us, but we didn't want to force him into doing something that was supposed to be fun.
This wasn't an easy choice to make by any means, and I know our son definitely struggled with it as well. As parents we want to make the best decisions for our kids, especially when they seem to be headed in the wrong direction, but it's not always that cut and dry.
What Can Parents Do When Their Kids Want To Quit a Sport?
So what can parents do when their kid wants to walk away from the sport they once loved? We were at a loss, but we decided we should try to remain calm (in his presence anyway). Listen carefully to your child's reasons for wanting to quit the sport. Is it because they aren't getting along with a teammate, or, are they really just wanting more video game time? Did they give more serious reasons, such as, it's affecting their studying time, or they are not getting enough playing time on the field. All of these can be important to them, depending on their age.
If grades or their health is being impacted because of the time they spend practicing their sport, then as a parent it may be imperative to allow them to take time off.
A few big arguments to acknowledge are, is your child having fun anymore? Is the level they are playing at too competitive for them, and they are falling behind? Do they want to try another sport instead?
In cases like these, maybe moving to a recreation league instead of club or travel type of team may be the key for them to find their joy in their sport again. Perhaps allowing them to try something new, even if it's not an athletic activity maybe a good option. Offer them these options, and carefully contemplate their responses.
Talk to the coach. What potential does he or she see in your child's development, what do they consider to be their strengths? Could it be that your child is just overwhelmed and could use a sabbatical?
Make sure your kid is aware of what you hoped they learned by being involved in sports in the first place, and that they extend beyond the actual physical activity: having fun, diligence, discipline, teamwork, a healthy lifestyle, sportsmanship, and making friendships.
Remind them that they made a commitment to the team. While their issues may be valid, if it's mid-season then it's crucial to stick it out and give it their all, until the end.
Don't lose your composure. Again, give them your undivided attention and hold back any initial emotions, this is about them, not you.
Please refrain from saying things like 'winners never quit'. Those types of expressions have their place in the world of sports, but what your child needs right now is an opportunity to see that you are there to help them make a sound judgement, not to make them feel badly.
Sometimes, All They Need Is Time
My son started high school as a soccer player, a sport he'd dabbled in on and off throughout his youth. He had fun, but by the time summer before Sophomore year came, he made a hard left and went back to his first love, the great game of baseball.
Needless to say we were thrilled! But more than anything we were so proud. He had made the most difficult choice, and walked away after years of devotion, risking any chance of making it the career he'd once dreamed of. During the break he had time to clear his head, really think about what he loved about baseball, and what he didn't. What had kept him playing for so long, and what a life of pursuing his MLB dreams would really demand of him. This took maturity, and mental strength. Two things we had always hoped being involved in sports would teach him, but never really knew just how tangible that lesson would be.
Our boy made the JV team, but had to work really hard to catch up. He was called up to Varsity by the end of 10th grade. Now, he is certain of what he wants to pursue, and is back to working on his strategy for the next big step, college ball.
Is Quitting Actually So Bad?
While we all dream of our kids following through with the sport, winning all the awards, and making it as a pro, the reality is that most will quit at one point or another. Quitting isn't really as bad as its stigma, if there are good grounds for doing so. The case for not giving up without a solid reason to do so is also very strong. At the end of the day, you know your child and what they are capable of, and what they aren't. Guiding our kids towards making intelligent decisions for their lives should be the ultimate goal.
Barbara is the mom behind the blog, Modern Sports Mom. She began writing a craft and lifestyle blog in 2012. As life evolved, and her boys became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.