How to avoid the burnout?

Discussion in 'Girls Youth Soccer' started by SquareUp, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. SquareUp

    SquareUp New Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    I'm relatively new to these boards, but I've learned quite a bit from reading many threads - thanks.

    I think when many of us were growing up (I'm starting to show my age here), playing sports as a youth, and even in high school, was a seasonal activity. However, with soccer I'm amazed at the commitment one needs to have at such an early age to be successful at it - even at the AYSO level here in SoCal.

    I have a daughter who has been playing since she was 4 years old. Her goal is to play in high school and hopefully in college, too. She has made her AYSO Select team the last three years and her seasons have started in August and ended in June. She has just tried out for her first GU13 club team and will most likely make their Bronze roster (but she may end up making the Silver team). I know playing at the club level takes another level of commitment, so I know she will be much more involved with soccer than before.

    Okay, here's my question. I've read several threads here where people have mentioned that they've seen many kids quit before they play in U14/15. I'm going to assume that a lot of that is due to burnout. Quite honestly, I can easily see that happening to many kids. So, for those of you who have had your children play all the way through high school & college - What did you do to keep your kids motivated so they didn't burnout?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Arsenal FC
    Short, cynical answer: don't start playing soccer at 4.

    Longer, more thoughtful answer: make sure she gets lots of breaks. By this I mean, don't let her play fall soccer, indoor during the winter, spring soccer and then send her to soccer camps during the summer. Let her do something else: if she likes basketball, for instance, let her play that, no scratch that, encourage her greatly to play that. If she's in girl scouts or youth group and they conflict with soccer, let her go to girl scouts or youth group. Pick the soccer camp she wants to go to most, and let her go to one, not three or four. And lastly, let her play on teams that have her friends, not necessarily the one that is "best" for her development.

    Soccer's supposed to be fun, let it be fun.

    PERFDBDAN New Member

    May 6, 2004
    Burn out does not exist in the manner most think of it. A study published a few years back in the Soccer Journal reported that the major reason children left soccer was because they had limited time and preferred other activities more. It was found they still liked soccer, but they liked basketball, baseball, drama dance, etc., more. What is equally important is that this pattern exists for ALL activities. Children leave basketball, baseball, dance, and drama to concentrate on soccer.

    The drop out significantly occurs when children have both a wider range of activities and those activites, together with school, place greater demands on the child's time.

    Many players who love soccer play it every day of the year, and if they could almost every hour. You cannot burn the game out of them.

    You can make the game unpleasant for a child and in a child who is not in love with the game the result can be driven away. They do not become burned out of the game, but like most people will seek to avoid the painful or unpleasant. A child may detest the pressure from parents to achieve in the game. Remove that pressure and the game returns to being enjoyable. A child may detest the work or effort needed to play at a high level. They enjoy the game, just not the effort to be good. Just letting them play removes the problem.

    Other children thrive on pressure and competition. They will leave the game if they find it too easy and unrewarding. If one is burn out the other is surely from a lack of sparking the embers of passion in the game.

    You have to look at each child as an individual, and individual that is growing and changing. You also have to realize that growing means changing and things are never quite the same from day to day. No matter how much in love with the game a child may be there are going to be days they simply want to veg out and be glued to the television or computer. On those days you may have to kick their rear in gear for practice. Only if it is every day do you have an issue that needs to be investigated. If on other days they go out on their own to just play with friends or on their own with the ball they are not candidates for burn out. What may be too much for one child is not enough for another.

    In short, you may burn out from the costs and time demands of club soccer before your child does. Just pay attention to what she not only enjoys but helps her develop purpose.
  4. justakid

    justakid Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Chicago Fire
    United States
    I have always thought it was a good idea to allow my kids to play an additional sport. I know most say they need to concentrate on the one they want to call "the one", but different sports help to train the body and alleviate boredom. My son decided to take a year off at U-15 to play baseball, it was the best thing he ever did, although his club coaches were extremely disappointed and just plain livid. When he got back to soccer, it was with a renewed enthusiam, like never before. Its a long haul playing one sport from U-littles ....all the way up to college. I would always suggest some sort of break along the way. It worked for my kids.
  5. CVAL

    CVAL Member

    Dec 8, 2004
    This is usually the problem not the kids. :)
  6. Bird1812

    Bird1812 New Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    I agree. There will be times that kids will whine about how much time they have to give a sport. This is often when they have to give up some activity with their friends because of their sport commitment. How their parents react tends to determine whether the kid quits or not. There have been times I've said to my kids, "You've made a commitment for the season, but if at the end of the season you want to do something else - not a problem." No doubt I'd be really disappointed if they did quit, but I try not to let it show. The decision to continue playing must be their decision and so far they have always opted to continue playing.

    I should also add, that there are a lot of activities my youngest misses for a pretty heavy soccer commitment and for that reason I tend to bend over backwards to accomodate her social life even though there are time I feel it hardly worth the effort and an impingement on my time. I do it, because I don't want her to end up resenting or regretting the time she has to put in to play at the level she does.
  7. SquareUp

    SquareUp New Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    You all have provided some really invaluable insight - thank you all very much!
  8. Smashfoot

    Smashfoot New Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    I think the key thing is to let the kid decide. My soccer playing kid cannot get enough soccer, but basically I let the kid direct how it goes. I completely agree that all youth activities lose participants at the 13-15 year level. The kids become much more self-aware at this age, which I think is the real reason.

    I remember quitting a sport when I was 15, because I sucked! The other thing is that the kids I had success against started quitting even earlier. It then comes much harder to succeed, because the players you could beat are gone, leaving behind only the players who can beat you.
  9. Treece

    Treece New Member

    Feb 15, 2005
    I'm not sure if it's always burn out. I have a 13 year old and a 15 year old. This year my 15 year old decided to play volleyball for her high school team and play premiere soccer in the spring. I thought she was beginning to show signs of losing interest in soccer, but despite her absolute new obsession with volleyball, her love for soccer has grown enormously. I thought for sure it would be the opposite.

    I noticed this at age 12 or so. At this age, the strongest girls go and play club soccer and try to hang on to play with their travel team to be with their friends. They learn that travel is just not at the same level and their hearts are not into it. Plus they now juggle two teams and often add a middle school team on top of that. They quit travel, significantly weakening the travel team and thus the spirits of those that chose not to go that route. A once strong travel team begins losing every game and girls begin to drop out.

    Add in other middle school and high school commitments, and you lose more girls.

    Of course, that's my opinion from a tiny town in New England. Perhaps it's different elsewhere.

  10. allsport132000

    allsport132000 New Member

    Oct 30, 2005
    I know this is in "girls soccer" thread, and I have all boys, but I think your question applies to everyone.

    You really need to listen to your kid. Be sure what is being offered: camps, clinics, travel, changing clubs, whatever you think is "best" is something that the player gets to consider, evaluate and voice an opinion. Some kids do need a break - they may come back to soccer more committed, or they may not come back, ever.

    My older son's U18 team lost five players at the end of their U17 season. One decided to commit to playing his rock and roll band, one committed to varsity baseball at his high school, one is doing drama/school plays, one - from what I can tell - has become a fulltime partier, one just isn't interested.
    What is interesting, though, is that we have five new/returning players who all took a year or more off soccer and have come back. Three are new to the team, two played with the same team a couple years back. And all five of them are energized, committed and excited about playing again.

    When my younger son took a fall soccer season off at about U13 to play recreational ice hockey, it was hard to just smile and say "sure, if that's what you want to do" but we sort of held our breath. He came back to soccer on his own, and still plays other sports but makes soccer his priority. I think if we had insisted that he work through his desire to play hockey and kept playing soccer because he was forced to, he might not play at all now. It's a hard balancing act, giving kids enough room to make their own decisions, but keeping their options open for when they change their minds.

    One thing we always insisted on: if you commit to a team or sport for a season, you finish that season. A team counts on its players and you have to honor your commitment if you try out and register, etc. So if your daughter asks for a break, I'd say finish your season and THEN take a break. If mid-season she wants to come back, it's a plus to a team to have her, but she hasn't harmed anyone by breaking promises.

    You say you hope she will play through high school and into college - but you need to let her make those decisions - let her decide that is what she WANTS to do.

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