Athletes, Lifestyle, Quitting, Transition

Sports: When to call it Quits?

There comes a time in every athletes career when a decision needs to made on whether to continue pursuing the sport or to call it quits. This is certainly a big decision and one that carries with it a large amount of emotions. There are usually many factors to consider when making this decision. The athlete must ask themself “am I making the right decision?”.

Many athletes prepare for this transition and actually set a specific time when they retire. For me personally, I made a decision several years prior to the 1988 Olympic Games that I would retire after the event (if I was to make it that far – which I fortunately did). However, many athletes are forced upon the idea of calling it quits much earlier than they expected.

For an athlete to make the decision to quit their sport, it can be a very emotional issue. There are many reasons why this may occur and in most cases, not an easy decision. Athletes may fight against quitting and hang on for a period of time hoping that situations improve. This is quite normal and suggested because making this critical decision will likely be a major change in one’s lifestyle.

Some common reasons why an athlete decides to quit may be: a major injury or persistent injuries, personal financial challenges, or a change in lifestyle or environment to name only a few. But one reason, which is one of the hardest to deal with, is the issue of failure. Stress in Sports .

Most athletes like to win and many live their lives for this purpose. In the early stages of sport, a young athlete participates for fun, and as time and development increases, so does the seriousness. However, as sport levels increase, so does the difficulty. The problem arises when it becomes apparent that the athlete does not have the ability or talent to take their sport to higher levels.

As a coach or parent, it is very frustrating and sad to see students struggle in their training and not progress as other students do in their same group. It is even more frustrating for the student!!  Parents may search for excuses and attempt to find reasons for the problem Coaching the Parents. Some may blame the coaches for a lack of attention, some may blame the child for lack of effort. However, although these factors are not uncommon, the real reason may be that the student just doesn’t have what it takes to achieve future growth in the sport.

It is especially frustrating for the parent who has financially invested so much for so many years. For many parents in this situation, calling it quits is not an option. Unfortunately, this results may create a longer sense of agony and frustration for both the athlete and parent.

Most veteran coaches are familiar with this situation and can easily see the signs. They know their students well and can determine when an athletes progress has maxed out. This is when it is important to conference with the parent to explain the situation and offer options.

Quality of life is important for everyone. When it is apparent that an athlete is emotionally struggling, something needs to change. Calling it quits, if necessary, can be the best decision ever made. Fighting it, especially for a long period of time, can make life miserable. Let’s not let this happen!!

“Through a lifetime of sports as both a successful competitor and coach, I am familiar with many aspects of sports development.  How it begins, how it evolves, and how it effect lives are all questions that need to be answered and discussed.  Let me know if I can help you or assist in any way.”

Scott Johnson  


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