Leaving a sport to pursue another sport or activity isn’t always easy, but it can be necessary.
I know it’s pretty weird for a sportswriter to give advice about leaving a sport, but here we are.
Though they may not all be vocal about it, there are definitely kids in our area who are having second thoughts about continuing to play a sport they’re involved with. Maybe they want to focus more on another sport, or maybe they just want to give up on sports altogether to go do something else. There’s nothing wrong with leaving one activity to focus on another, but it can be hard for kids to get the courage to tell someone how they really feel about it. They might feel pressured to keep playing, whether that pressure from parents, coaches or whoever it’s linked to, is real or not.
Believe it or not, there’s a pretty good chance the people you’re dreading breaking the news to will work with you. Why bother putting all your energy into an extracurricular if you’re not enjoying yourself? If someone really cares about you, they’ll respect your decision and support you on your new path.
First, though, look back at everything you’ve done in the sport. Did you give it an honest try and work hard at it? Did you stick with it through good times and bad times? If so, you already have a few good points to make when you have the talk with your parents and/or coaches. Do you already know what activity you want to focus on? Even better. That’s what most people are trying to hear — that you gave it your all and just don’t have the passion to keep going while you have other interests in mind. No one in their right mind could tell you that you’re wrong for wanting to walk away and try something new.
It gets tricky when you have parents or coaches that don’t understand or sympathize. They may be a large reason why you’re considering walking away. I know there are plenty of parents out there who live vicariously through their kids in an unhealthy way and coaches out there who would see you walking away as a failure on your end. Telling those people you want out isn’t going to be a cakewalk. If you’re getting resistance, dig into your support system and seek help there. Maybe another adult in your life can help you get your point across in a way that works.
Maybe you don’t have a backup activity just yet but are focused on leaving your sport right now. It’s going to be a much harder sell when you’re not sure what you’d rather be doing, but why stick with an activity when you hate doing it and it’s taking its toll on your willpower? Just keep your eyes and mind open for something new to try. Not that it’s a sports-specific example, but in college I was a marketing major who got burned out and didn’t know what I wanted to do until I took my first journalism course. I didn’t have the easiest time explaining my decision, but I’m still 100%sure I did the right thing.
Let’s get one thing perfectly straight: what we’re talking about this week is not going to make you a quitter. You’re not storming out because you had one bad game or your team underperformed in a tournament. You’re just realizing you might be better at and happier doing something else. There’s no shame in that.