In Parents' Role in Youth Sports, Problems in Youth Sports

I recently got an email from a high level college volleyball player who had made the decision to no longer play in college. She had been playing competitively for a very long time for a high level club team, claimed it was no longer fun and that she had lost her passion for the sport, and now she wanted to stop. The problem, of course was that her parents, and especially her mom, didn’t want her to. They were making her feel guilty about her decision and were pressuring her to keep playing.

Here’s my response:

First off, the volleyball belongs to YOU and no one else. You’ve played all these years because YOU wanted to. It brought YOU pleasure. It made YOU happy. It made YOU feel good about yourself. The fact that you have lost YOUR passion for the sport is nothing more than that.

You sound like you’re finished, that you’ve had enough. You have obviously played at a very high level for a very long time. If it’s no longer fun and it has now become a chore, then it’s time for you to walk away with your head held high and feel just fine about that.

You shouldn’t be playing if it’s not fun anymore. You shouldn’t be playing if it’s nothing but work unless this is the only way that YOU can go to school and YOU are willing to suck it up and play so that you can go to school. Howeve, if you have other resources available to you to pay for school then I totally support your decision to leave.

You should not have to feel badly about the leaving. You should not have to feel guilty. You should not have to feel as if you’re “throwing it all away, ” etc. Your parents should support your difficult decision because it’s well thought out, comes from your heart and is YOUR decision.

Parents support their kids’ sports financially, physically and in every other way because that’s what loving parents do. There should be no strings attached. NEVER, EVER! This is not a business relationship where they invest the money and you have to pay them a return for their investments. This is not what loving parents do. Loving parents want you to be happy and wholeheartedly support that without giving you mixed messages.

No parent should make a child play sports, especially at your age. The only thing that will come from that is a serious emotional rift in your relationship with them. When your mom acts this way, she is inadvertently pushing you away. You are at an age where you have to listen to your heart and start to make your own decisions. When you do this, inevitably you will eventually go up against their wishes. This is part of your job in growing up. To go out on our own, to separate and learn to trust yourself and make what you think is the best possible choices for YOU!

It’s a parent’s job to let you their young adult children do this, to even encourage them to do so. It’s fine for your parents to have strong feelings about your choices and even want you to strongly consider their viewpoint. However, now as a young adult, the final decision has to be yours and your mom and dad need to let you follow your heart, regardless of whether they agree with you or not. This is a TOUGH job for both kids and parents do do!

All I can say to you is continue to stick with your decision. You sound like you have your head on straight and that this decision was well thought out. You may have to continue to ask your parents to understand you and your choice and they may or may not. Your job, however, is still to try not to feel guilty about the decision or that you’ve somehow let them down. Ultimately this isn’t about making them happy. This is about making YOU happy!


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