Children are exposed to sport quite young, often before they even learn to read. Therefore, when signing up your child for youth basketball, it is a good idea at an early age to start positively associating sports with social skills, good health and, most importantly, fun.
According to ‘Changing The Game’ Project, 70% of kids drop out of sports by the time they’re 13. There are usually a few key reasons for that. While some people may point to skill level, other commitments, and schoolwork as reasons a child may drop out, the real answer may not be so simple.
Reasons for dropping out
The number one reason for a child dropping out of a sport is that they are not having fun. A study from Washington, DC-based organisation The Aspen Institute asked children to list what aspects of playing a sport they most and least enjoy.
Trying hard, coaches treating players with respect and playing as a team all topped the list of what kids found to be the most fun aspects of playing sport. On the opposite end, tournament play, taking photos, practicing with specialty coaches and trainers, and even winning were among the least enjoyable aspects of a sport.
No one is too old for the question “Are you having fun?” The more fun you have, the more likely you’ll improve.
If your child doesn’t have agency or decision making over their actions, they will quickly move to an activity where there won’t be an adult constantly hovering over them. Work with your child in setting goals for themselves. They’ll feel a greater sense of achievement when they accomplish a goal they set out.
3. Playing time
Playing time is another big factor in a child deciding if they want to continue with a sport. Kids would much rather have playing time on a losing team than riding the bench of a winning team. At a young age, coaches should be spreading the minutes evenly between players, giving each a chance to develop in-game.
It’s difficult to identify future stars at a young age, many of best players in the world were cut from their high school basketball teams, such as Bob Cousy and Carmelo Anthony. Putting too much pressure on one kid and none at all on another will most likely result in both children dropping out. Make sure your child is comfortable with the number of minutes they receive.
Like any skill, basketball takes thousands of hours to perfect. Not everyone is going to make the right decisions immediately and respecting your child’s agency will help them learn from their mistakes. Acknowledge the dedication and effort your child applies to youth basketball, and they’ll continue to do so.
Michael Jordan had a condition in all of his contracts allowing him to go and play pick-up basketball whenever he wanted, known as the “love of the game” clause. The love of basketball is the biggest motivation for a child to improve.
For more tips on being a supportive parent, check out our Parent Education page.