Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Kids Quit Sports

Something I shared recently about the reasons for kids quitting sport permanently, and at a very young age (typically before 13), was featured on Little League Dad’s Twitter News this morning:

Click on the image for a link to the website it was shared. Click on this link for the actual article -

Please take a minute to read the article, and then here is my response to it:

It’s very true. I have had the real pleasure of being able to discuss the aspects of internal vs. external motivation with Olympic rower and now elite trainer of rowers, and his talk on “Carrot or the Stick” reinforces that we need to create an environment and culture of internal motivation, rather than the dominant culture of external motivation, or outcome based. This isn’t to say that results aren’t important, but it’s how we frame the issue, treat our children (athletes), and place the focus.
Children are not miniature adults. They learn, move, and play in fundamentally (and wonderful) way. In fact, we could truly learn from them. We need to follow models like Canadian Sport for Life’s (CS4L) Long Term Athlete Development; whereby, 0-6 years old is the Active Start and focuses on the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination) through unstructured play. Yes, PLAY! For the first six years kids should be playing. And heck, let them create their own play. We as parents/coaches often believe we need to give a structured environment. We really don’t. Kids are amazing, and will find incredible ways to move in all sorts of ways.
From here, the 6-8/9 (slightly different for boys/girls), we move to the FUNdamental Stage. This is when “skills” are first introduced, but once again, in an unstructured, informal setting. That is, create games or activities that produce a given movement, but do not run 7 year olds through circuit training as you may a young adult. As well, kids should be playing 2-3 sports/activities, and not specializing until potentially later in the Train to Compete/Win Stages. A disclaimer, even the CS4L acknowledges that a few sports do require early specialization, such as gymnastics, diving, and I believe the other is figure skating.
Finally, it is paramount children learn the 12 Fundamental Movement Skills, as put forth by Physical & Health Education Canada, and more so before puberty. It has been shown that children that does not learn these, object manipulation, stability, and mobility skills have significant barriers later in adulthood to entering or remaining physically active.
Great article. We need to promote age/developmentally appropriate learning and teaching for our children, and we have many great models to follow and help guide us. We need to create a FUN environment for our children. Let them play, and let them create their own play