Why Children Drop Out of Sports

The child obesity epidemic is rife across the globe. Inactivity is the main reason behind this epidemic. There is a huge drop out in sports after the age of 12 in both boys and girls. By tackling this ‘drop out’ problem we can reduce the inactivity epidemic. In order to do so we must highlight the main driving forces behind children quitting sports.

There are physical, psychological and social reasons behind drop out, these are detailed below:

1. Lack of Enjoyment

Children just want to have fun. If a child has a negative experience from sports they will quit. Lack of fun can stem from poor coaching, lack of friendships, and pressure from parents. Creating a fun environment is essential for retention.

2. Pressure

Whether from parents, coaches or other children excessive pressure to win can become overbearing. This breeds a fear of failure and unwillingness to even try. Children need to be encouraged and allowed to express themselves. This will allow them to flourish within the sporting setting,

3. Injuries

Early year’s specialisation in one sport can lead to repetitive stress on the child’s body; this can lead to overuse injuries. These injuries force long lay-offs and even drop out from the sport. Having specialised from a young age the child will have no desire to play any other sport. Allowing children to experience multiple sports from a young age will provide them with the fundamental skills to play any sport later in life.

4. Time demands

When entering the teenage years, sport becomes less important. There is a greater demand academically within schools and from social circles which takes preference over sports participation. This will lead to a reduction in sports participation and eventual drop out. Sport is an essential component within a child’s development, and needs to be ranked higher within schools and by parents.

5. Self-Confidence

Negative feedback from parents and coaches can damage a child’s confidence. This will deter them from participating, as they feel they are not good enough. Fear of embarrassing themselves and losing takes over. This lack of self-confidence will cause the child to drop out. A greater focus on positive reinforcement and encouragement is needed to build the confidence of the child.

In order to stop children dropping out of sports these five factors need to be tackled. A greater education of youth coaches and parents is paramount. Fighting this drop out is critical to reduce the inactivity in children.

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