9 Signs Your Child Has Sports Burnout

Take note before they become part of the 70% of kids who drop out of sport by 13.

Asia Mape

| 3 min read

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms the alarming statistic that 70% of kids quit youth sports by age 13. There are several reasons why this number is so high and many of them are very normal; puberty and a change in hormones can have a dramatic effect on your child’s emotions and interests, academics can often become more challenging at this age, and kids feel pulled in too many directions. Electronics, social media, and hanging out with friends can become a higher priority than sports. Also, there are fewer options for kids at the recreational level, and if they aren’t interested in playing club sports, their opportunities become greatly diminished. Or kids simply discover other activities that interest them more.

But there is one reason kids quit, that isn’t normal. It’s a byproduct of the intense pressure adults have created in youth sports… it’s called burnout. Unfortunately, more and more kids are quitting because they are exhausted, stressed, and overworked. They have lost the joy and love for their sport.

Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes it can be more difficult to spot. But there are nine signs of burnout to keep your eye out for. If you catch it early, you can hopefully keep them from becoming part of that 70% of kids who quit sports at age 13.

  1. Sudden disinterest in their sport or a lack of motivation. Complaining they don’t want to go to practice, slow to get ready.
  2. Loss of enjoyment or pride in what they are doing. If they seem more negative about the coach or their teammates, or their own play on the field. If they used to take great pride in their accomplishments and now are no longer excited to share these experiences.
  3. Poor performance. Yes, all youth athletes’ performances will rise and fall, but if you notice a consistent downward spiral for no apparent reason, this could be a sign.
  4. Constantly tired, sleeping more than usual. Sick more often. Eating habits change.
  5. Detached from the team, they don’t want to socialize during downtime.
  6. Mood swings, easily aggressive or depressed.
  7. Exaggerates injuries or ailments.
  8. A sudden anxiety about performance or playing in general.
  9. Interested in trying other sports or different activities for the first time.

(Some of these signs could be attributed to a larger problem, so please speak with a physician if your concerns encompass more than their sports).

If you notice several of these signs, you may want to consider some minor or serious changes before your child quits altogether.

Asia Mape runs ilovetowatchyouplay.com, a site for parents who want to raise happy, healthy and successful athletes. A version of this story appeared on that site first.

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