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To let DD stop doing the sport she is really good at? Don't know what to do for the best!

(62 Posts)
Cellarie Wed 04-Jan-17 16:24:21

My DD (only child if it is relevant) is 13 yo, county/regional level at a sport. She certainly has potential to go far - her coaches want her to up her commitment (go for higher level competitions and up her training by a couple of hours a week - she currently does 4 hrs p/w), as they recognise her potential and can see her at national level.

In the past DD has said she wants to push herself as far as she can go (talks of representing England etc), yet at the same time gets really nervous before she competes, and often says she wants to quit just before the comp starts. She then goes on to perform really well!

She is getting to that age where she would prefer not to do anything other than play on her phone - she has given up loads of hobbies/sports, which feels like a shame, but we don't want to dictate to her how she lives her life. However, she is now saying she wants to stop the sport that she is really good at ('I'll take up something else so I don't get unfit' she says).

My questions is - should we encourage/make her carry on despite getting nervous and saying she wants to stop, because this could all be tied up in performance anxiety about not winning (she is a perfectionist!), or should we let her stop and then have her turn round when she is older saying we should have made her carry on as we knew how much she wanted to succeed! It is sort of a sport she could get back into after taking a break, but with other kids continuing she would be constanly playing catch-up if she took a break, so I think it would wreck her confidence.

I wish I knew what to do for the best! You read posts form people saying they wish their parents had let them quit activities, and then posts saying they regret their parents letting them give up!

<<<Cue lots of posters saying 'it's her life, you shouldn't dictate!', but I'm also hoping to hear some 'Yes, I wish my parents hadn't let me make that decision at that age, I was a fool to give it up!'>>> LOL

Oh, and FWIW, we as parents are not involved in the sport/club at any level so have no personal interest in her carrying on iyswim, and as she is our only, we are happy to drive her to events etc.

harderandharder2breathe Wed 04-Jan-17 16:26:08

If she enjoys it while she's doing it I would strongly encourage her to continue, as the negativity is just teenageness. If she's not enjoying it when she's there then I'd let her quit

corythatwas Wed 04-Jan-17 16:29:17

The problem with a lot of sport, it seems to me, is that once you get to a certain level you don't have the option of doing it simply for pleasure or at a pace that suits yourself: you are expected to let it swallow up an increasing part of your life and you are surrounded by people for whom this sport is what they live for. If she does not want this sport as her career (and why should she have to, when there are thousands of careers to choose from?), she may find herself constantly being made to feel she is letting people down. I have a nephew of a similar age who is cutting down on a sport he was really keen on (also national level), in order to concentrate on his school work.

Keremy Wed 04-Jan-17 16:30:05

Pretty much the same as above really. I let one of mine stop in a similar situation. They weren't enjoying it anymore and to be at the top you need to be committed.

If she enjoys it while she is there then encourage her. If not then let her stop.

cheeseandcrackers77 Wed 04-Jan-17 16:31:03

Tricky one. I was 12 when I gave up a sport. I was at the stage where there were sponsors lined up for me and I was one of the best in my club but I just didn't want to do it anymore. I trained 6 days a week. I had no time to just be 12.
I do not regret it but what I do regret is walking away completely I should have stayed on in a less competitive way and got into coaching (even at 12 I helped coach younger ones).
I think you need to listen to your daughter it ultimately is her choice just gently give her options (if there are any) rather than it's all or nothing but if she doesn't want to do it for 4 hrs a week then she won't want to do anymore.

TheMasterNotMargarita Wed 04-Jan-17 16:32:14

I'd second the "if she's enjoying it whilst she's there" then strongly encourage continuing. Set a future..if she still wants to quit at half term say or Easter and review it again?
What is she intending to do instead to keep fit? Is it that she has something else in mind or just cba?

TeenAndTween Wed 04-Jan-17 16:33:17

Can you say if you really want to stop at Easter then you can.
But in the meantime it is important you have another activity, so take up something else to check you enjoy it.

- give her 3 months to think about it
- draw the line in the sand that she has to do something

harderandharder2breathe Wed 04-Jan-17 16:35:58

I also agree with exploring ways for her to stay involved without the pressure of competing.

Keeptrudging Wed 04-Jan-17 16:37:26

It's only 6 hours a week, she would still have lots of 'downtime'. I would encourage her to stick at it. I wouldn't be happy if my DD gave up sport (similar age), it's so good for their mental well-being as well as physical.

OurBlanche Wed 04-Jan-17 16:43:29

Talk to her coach.

If they are pushing for higher level comps they should have reasonable access to a sports psychologist! I've called them in (and been asked to do Team Talks for others) to give a group of listless athletes a disguised pep talk. They can be really effective in getting athletes to properly assess their thinking, so they don't make kneejerk or bored decisions!

TheWitTank Wed 04-Jan-17 16:47:36

I would let her carry on at a "fun" level if that is what she wants. My friends DD was competing at a very high level in gymnastics (think potential Olympic future). Coaches very excited. Training schedule was insane, the pressure was so high. One day she just broke down and didn't want to do it anymore. It had gone from being fun to becoming a chore -she couldn't be a normal kid going out with friends, it was all training and competitions. She was getting home at 10pm at night every night after training straight from school. She now goes for fun and helps out and does not compete. She is ten times happier. It was actually more devastating for her mum than her when she stopped, but now she can see it was the right choice for her DD. You have to really, really want it to compete at any discipline at a high standard.

deblet Wed 04-Jan-17 16:53:57

Let her give up for a couple of weeks. See how she feels about it. This is the age where some passions wane and as you are going through the hormonal and physical changes you just can't be bothered with anything else. If she loves it after a break she will go back but it should always be her choice please don't be THAT mother everyone rolls their eyes at. To excel at a sport you have to really want it. And if school and friends and hormones are saying she can't be bothered because she has enough on her plate then that is it. It may well be that the coaches are pushing her and she does not want to go that far.

Lweji Wed 04-Jan-17 16:57:33

My feeling is that too much importance seems to be placed in competition.
If she is not a particularly competitive person, then I'd encourage her to continue for fun, and tell the coaches to lay off the pressure on her.

However, it could pay off to talk to her and ascertain if she is having mostly anxiety issues or if she is not really interested in pursuing it further at a competitive level. If it's mainly anxiety, then some specialised counselling could help.

Serin Wed 04-Jan-17 16:57:52

Thing is, it's not that hard to be very good at a sport when you are 13. There are many many young athletes out there who are aiming for Olympic glory at that age, (I had 2 myself).
In the next few years the schedule becomes insane and if you don't absolutely adore your sport it is impossible to maintain the level of practise required.
I had one son give up (and he has never regretted it for a second) and another who is continuing to juggle his GCSE's alongside early morning and late night training sessions, meal plans, trips around this country and basically takes over your life.
I think it has to be her choice.

Verbena37 Wed 04-Jan-17 16:59:45

I gave up playing clarinet and didn't do music theory because a second a child, I didn't know how useful they'd be. However, at the time, my parents just simply said ok then. I wasn't amazing and was pretty rubbish at sight reading but had they explained my options to me, I might have seen how much more I could achieve by carrying on.

So in that respect, if I were you and it were my child thinking of giving up, I'd sit them down and write down all the different paths/outcomes there are if she carries on and how to achieve them. I'd also explain that you just want her to be happy and don't want to push her at something she really doesn't want to continue.

Then I'd tell her that she could just carry on doing the sport for fun and fitness but without competing.

Then she will have all of the information available to her and she can make an informed choice herself without feeling your pressuring her one way or the other.

Verbena37 Wed 04-Jan-17 17:00:21

As a child not a second a child!

Keeptrudging Wed 04-Jan-17 17:00:58

If it was a huge time commitment it would be different, but that's not too bad. DD does 6 hours novice gymnastics a week (squad do 20+), plus other sports/music. She's still got plenty of time to chill/see friends.

Peanutbutterrules Wed 04-Jan-17 17:05:23

I vote for not pushing her to be the best, but to stay involved at a lower level. My DD is very good at one sport, national level - European ranking. We've said 2 more years then back to normal life for GCSE's.

The minute she isn't loving it then we'd stop the comps and just do it for fun. Because it is suppose to be fun. That's the starting point. High level achievement is the end game for a few only (frankly I think my DD may step down once the competition gets really tough next year because it will suck the fun out).

If however, you think pre competition nerves are just getting to her then get her to write a journal entry just AFTER competing about how she feels. Then get her to reread it before the next competition so she can remember how she feels afterwards.

OurBlanche Wed 04-Jan-17 17:10:14

Please don't! That kind of diary needs to come form her thinking, it needs to be her own response to a perceived need... one that she perceives!

Parent and even coaches are not the right people to make such suggestions, especially at her age. It all just adds to the 'bovvered' response.

Trust me... I have been doing this for other poeples athletes, whilst getting in A N Other for mine, for about 20 years, smile

Cellarie Wed 04-Jan-17 17:17:33

In reply to some questions - when DD is doing the sport, she seems to really enjoy it. She pushes herself hard, always tries her best. She listens to her coaches and takes their guidance onboard so she can improve. However, when she is not actively doing it, she is saying she doesn't want to carry on with it, and complains if she had to get up early to go to a meet or misses a party or something.

It isn't the kind of sport you can do non-competitively - there isn't really a lot of point in doing it without competitions. Sorry to be vague. She might be able to assist in training others I suppose, but I'm not sure she would commit to that as she is pretty competitive and I don't think it would motivate her enough.

I'm wondering about the psychology idea. However, she is pretty resistent to being told what to think and it does feel a little OTT for a 13 year old perhaps?

Thanks for your comments. They are really helpful smile

QueenofallIsee Wed 04-Jan-17 17:22:44

I feel for you OP, it is a tricky one.

With my own children, we have to continue with our commitments. Giving up a hobby would not happen half way through a term/season for instance under any but the most exceptional circumstances. Then it is about your kid. You KNOW your DD. Of my 4 children there are:
2 that would give up their hobby only if they hated it or lost a limb - no brainer, see through the season and then we will look for an alternative
1 self confessed lazy bones who needs surgically detaching from his phone - he is chivvied out of the house amid much sulking but is fine once he gets where he is going. We would be doing him a massive disservice if we let him pack in his sport/Scouts
1 who is socially anxious and works himself up into a frenzy. This is trickier but thus far, we have used encouragement and reward to maintain interest on the basis that he needs help to get over his anxiety.

Who is your DD? Would professional support help her? A different club? Does she understand what she would be giving up and how hard it could be to lose such a huge part of her life?

mumsiedarlingrevolta Wed 04-Jan-17 17:23:24

I read your post with interest- my DS competes at a sport in which he has represented his Country for the past two years at Jr level so I appreciate the dedication it takes and the stresses involved.

I would definitely suggest a session with a Sports psychologist to unpick the issues and see if it would be helpful. It is expensive so I don't know if this is an option but might be worth it in the long run.

With lots of people the nerves in competition are what drives them to greatness.

I would be inclined to encourage her and see if you can get her some support to make it work-But at the elite level it takes so much dedication and sacrifice that ultimately if your DD's heart isn't in it it's no good.

Please DM me if you want to chat.

Good luck

lottiegarbanzo Wed 04-Jan-17 17:33:06

Hmm, well 4-6 hours a week isn't much, not like 4-6 hours a day that some sportspeople, ambitious musicians etc expend.

But, the thing with instruments and most sports is that they are fun socially during the teens and provide a great way to get to know new people and an outlet away from work in adulthood. So getting as good as you can, then not pursuing them professionally / competitively makes sense.

Given she does have time for other things too and enjoys it while doing, I'd encourage her to continue but would talk to the coach and a psychologist about ways to deal with nerves. Being able to overcome nerves and perform when necessary is a really useful life skill generally.

Could she / does she do a less competitive, more social sport or activity too? It would seem a shame to miss out on those opportunities for a 'lonely' individual sport.

Nataleejah Wed 04-Jan-17 18:11:30

I wouldn't allow giving up as soon as more commitment is required. Give it at least until the end of the season/year.

Susiesue61 Wed 04-Jan-17 18:38:23

Our DD is 15 and plays at county level. Her commitment goes up year on year and she absolutely loves it. I do worry though that she will get to that point, that the stress of competing starts to upset her and that she would be 'burnt out'. She can get very upset when she has a bad spell.

I would agree with previous posters that maybe stopping the very high level competition and doing the more fun stuff for a while.

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