As kids reach their teenage years, burnout can become an issue in youth organized sports. According to a National Alliance for Youth Sports poll, about 70 percent of kids stop playing by age 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore”. Burnout from repetitive drills, oppressive coaching style and increasingly competitive play has become an all-too-familiar reality for many children as they reach their teenage years.

Why kids are quitting sports

It can be heartbreaking for youth soccer parents to see their kids quit the sport. There could be several reasons why players might be quitting, from a lack of enjoyment to youth sports that have become too competitive over the years. Kids might feel discouraged from all the pressure put on them to win and compete with one another, and this feeling of discouragement could result in them quitting the sport completely. Other factors like financial obligations or an overcrowded schedule could also play a role in youth players’ decisions to leave sports behind. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how to provide support or encouragement when they decide to quit, but sometimes taking time away from sports is what’s best for their mental health after all.

It’s no secret that youth sports can be intense. With year-round practices and games, it’s easy for players to get burned out. As a parent, you can help prevent this by following these simple tips. Burnout is a serious issue in youth sports, so make sure you’re doing your part to help your child stay healthy and happy while playing the sport they love.

Find the balance with all activities

Balancing sports with school, other activities, and family time can be a tough endeavor for youth soccer parents and players. As young soccer players get older, there is often a lot of pressure to excel in their sport while also maintaining good grades in school. This task can feel like an exhausting juggling act between the desire to pursue both academic and athletic success. For some soccer parents and players, this could mean that they have to sacrifice other activities or family time to fit it all in. Young athletes need to find ways to manage their priorities while still enjoying what they love, but it takes work and practice to learn how things should be balanced.

Set realistic expectations for playing time and performance

If you want to enjoy any activity, it is important to have realistic expectations. This is also true for sports. Athletes of any age can benefit from having the right mental attitude and goal-setting. If you expect too much from yourself, you might feel discouraged. But if you have reasonable expectations, you will stay motivated and focused on what’s important. There are 4 rules for setting realistic expectations: 1) focus on effort rather than outcome; 2) use your personal best as your measuring stick; 3) set individual goals about playing time or performance, and 4) allow yourself enough time to get better at the game without putting too much pressure on yourself. Taking cues from a supportive coach can be helpful.

Encourage players to take breaks when they need them, including during practice

All athletes need time to rest to heal and not get injured. It is easy for players to get caught up in the game and push themselves too hard. Players need to build a culture of self-care where they take breaks when needed. This includes breaks during practice where players can stretch, drink water, and do deep breathing exercises. Athletes also need time away from their sport. This may mean taking a few minutes each hour or stepping away from the field for more extended periods.

Talk to your child about how they’re feeling after games and practices

Playing sports is fun, of course, but it can also be a bit overwhelming for kids. Practices and games are often filled with physical demands and cognitive demands, leaving kids feeling both mentally and physically drained. As a parent, it’s important to make sure your child has the opportunity to talk through their experience after their game or practice. It’s okay to let them vent if they need to – it shows that you’re aware of what they’re dealing with and ready to take an active role in processing their thoughts. Ask questions, listen carefully, and try to understand what they’re going through. Taking time after practices and games to chat with your child about how they feel allows them to get some perspective on the experience and see things in a more positive light.

Help them understand that it’s okay to make mistakes – everyone does

For many of us, making mistakes is one of the scariest parts of life. We worry that people will judge us or think we are incompetent. But the truth is, everyone makes mistakes – it’s only natural. Instead of being embarrassed, why not use mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow? By fostering a culture where it’s okay to fail and make mistakes, you can help create an atmosphere full of creativity and innovation. Start by helping your family and friends understand that it’s okay to take risks and experiment; remind them that even when things don’t go according to plan, you can learn from the process and become better for it. Knowing that failure is part of life can free them from fear and open up possibilities they never considered before. So let it be known – being brave enough to make mistakes isn’t just acceptable, but essential for anyone who wants to make progress in life.

Be supportive without putting pressure on them to win or succeed

Being supportive to soccer players is essential if you want them to succeed and stay motivated. Showing your support for their passion and dedication can have a positive impact on their future career. Be conscious of the words you use when talking about their performance, and avoid putting too much pressure on them to succeed or win, as this may lead to unhealthy levels of competitiveness. Instead, try expressing admiration for their hard work and resilience in tough times – emphasize effort more than the result. By swapping traditional “you must win” encouragement with words that highlight the effort, you help build strong foundations for their development as a player.

As a parent, it’s important to remember that the key to helping your child succeed in sports – and life – is setting realistic expectations, being supportive without putting pressure on them to win or succeed, and encouraging them to take breaks when they need them. By following these tips, you’ll help create a positive environment for your child to thrive both on and off the field.

Coach Rizzo
Coach Rizzo

Welcome! We are excited to meet your players and help them have fun and feel more confident about playing soccer. As a lifelong soccer player, director, coach, and parent, my mission is to help growing soccer players improve skills and boost confidence so they can achieve more on and off the field. See You Out There!