why children stop playing soccer
I stopped going to soccer because after a while it became like
work, no fun...I used to like it..."
Eleven year-old, San Fernando Valley, California, USA
Why is it that some children keep
coming to our practices, week in week out, in hot sunshine and in freezing
blizzards while up to 25% of children (and they’re often the most talented ones)
pack it in after a few weeks or months?
A recent study asked almost 700
children who stopped playing organised sport (including football or soccer) what
it is was that made them give up.
The main reasons the kids gave for quitting were:
coach treated some children more favourably than others,
I was not
having any fun or
developed other non-sport interests.
Of these, only the development of
non-sport interests was related to the age of the child. This means that as
children get older they are more likely to drop out because they become
interested in activities outside of sport.
No surprise there!
Because children rarely drop out for
just one specific reason, the study also analysed the ‘reasons behind the
reasons’ for dropping out. It found that the primary combination of factors
contributing to dropping out was related to the team environment. Specifically,
the children felt that:
were not doing a good job,
There was too
much pressure to win and
of the team did not get along well with each other.
The most encouraging finding of all,
however, is that in the early age groups the principal reasons for stopping
playing soccer are reasons that you can do something about!
By understanding how your
children think, not putting too much emphasis on competition, giving quality
feedback and focusing on FUN your
children won’t drop out and may well develop a life long interest in sport -
thanks to you!
Now you know why children want
to play soccer it might be useful to gain an understanding of
children develop both physically and mentally. That way you’ll be able to plan
sessions that are pitched at the right level for your
It would also be a good idea
to read how to be an effective soccer coach.
Of course, the reasons why children stop
playing football vary according to their age when they stop. The most
common in my experience are:
Parental disinterest (or active discouragement)
that results in difficulty getting to practice, matches etc. (affects younger
Not fitting in - this is more common in girls
football where the importance of being in the the 'gang' becomes important as
children get to about ten years old;
New interests that replace football (other sports
usually - golf, tennis etc )
- Joining a peer group that do not play
pushing too hard, too young