I read this article and have my own opinion on kids being quitters. As a martial arts teacher and author I have had the opportunity to teach thousands of kids. Unfortunately some quit. However retention for young teens is really good. Martial Arts kids have an advantage because they are built inside and out. On the outside they gain skills, self defense, speed, strength, flexibility and great coordination. Inside is the big advantage. Learning to set and achieve goals, build confidence, self-esteem, ability to block out distractions, perseverance, courage, sportsmanship and commitment.
Many schools also offer Jr. Instructor Training for young teens giving them the opportunity for a great job at 16.
Greg Silva - President of Black Belt Schools International and author of The Silva Solution - Building Black Belts from the Inside Out
At 13, kids generally find themselves with more (and more challenging) school work. Most are also encouraged to start choosing what interests them the most and what they’re best at. There’s no longer time for them to do as much they did in elementary school.
Some of the major social and emotional changes that 13-year-olds experience also predispose them to making decisions such as quitting sports, especially as that environment becomes more competitive. The CDC describes it on its developmental milestones page as a “focus on themselves… going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.” Kids become more focused on — and influenced by — their friends, many of whom are also walking away from organized youth sports.
Any discussion about being 13 also needs to include social media, smartphones and the Internet. According to the Pew Center’s Internet Research Study, most U.S. kids receive their first cellphone or wireless device by the age of 12. Between the ages of 13 and 17, 92 percent of teens report being online every day, and 24 percent are online “almost constantly.” As kids become teenagers, their priorities change. How they socialize, study and spend their time changes with them.
These things collectively represent a perfect storm. There are no easy answers here. The system of youth sports is set up to cater to more elite players as they approach high school, leaving average kids with fewer opportunities. Our culture encourages specialization and achievement, which actively discourages kids from trying new things or just playing for fun. And all of this converges at a time when they’re going through major physical, emotional and social changes as well as facing pressure to pare down their interests and focus on school.
So why do 70 percent of kids quit organized sports at 13 and what can we do about it?
I would argue that most kids leave because we haven’t given them a way to stay. And perhaps more importantly, until we dismantle the parenting culture that emphasizes achievement and success over healthy, happy kids, we don’t stand a chance of solving this problem.
-Julianna W. Miner
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