Why I quit soccer

Playing sports is supposed to be fun and fulfilling, right? What about when parents and coaches are yelling at you to run faster, work harder, do better? Sadly, this type of shouting happens all the time during sports games and makes the players’ experiences less fun and more nerve racking.

Verbal abuse dished out by parents over invested in their children’s games distracts and stresses out players, no matter what it is they are being scolded for. Coaches should be the only people giving players constructive criticism, the parents instead providing encouragement and support. Any opinions voiced from the sidelines will make players feel anxious, as if every split-second decision they make will bring ridicule and criticism.

I have experienced much of this anxiety playing sports. I quit soccer because of the pressure I felt from my coaches and parents to do well was too much and it made me feel like anything I did was just not good enough. Playing National Premier League (NPL) soccer put a lot of pressure on me to do well, not just for myself, but also my team, and the amount of investment that parents have in the game at such high levels manifests in ways that can discourage players.

I used to get so anxious about making mistakes and getting yelled at by coaches and parents that I would feel sick with fear and get massive stomach pains. Many players, including myself, had considered injuring themselves for the sole purpose of not being fit to play.

Children and teens should never feel as if everything they do is not good enough. Parents can diminish the negative feelings their child experiences during sports games by keeping their opinions to themselves and offering encouraging support. Statistics show that during 2017, one in three children consider quitting the game because of “over-engaged parents.”

School sports at CVHS were such a great experience for me that I wondered why I was so stressed about club sports, and I realized that it was because the pressure to do well during school soccer was far lighter than during club play. Almost all of my teammates on the school team agreed with me and said that they felt more confident and composed during games, improving their performance overall. One girl I interviewed about this topic said that she not only performed better, but also had more fun on the school sports team because her parents wouldn’t yell at her as much, and the coaches were a lot more understanding about her mistakes.

Sports games are just games. Games are meant to be fun and exciting for the players, not something they despise because of the misbehaved parents and coaches. Children should be encouraged and supported by their parents in everything that they do, and not be ridiculed for for making small mistakes with unhelpful comments. Everyone makes mistakes, and if done so during a game, players should receive constructive criticism from their coach on how to avoid making the mistake again.

Parents yelling at their child to “stop doing that” or to “pull yourself together” multiple times a game cause the players to become more and more nervous about making a mistake, and often make one.

Parents should be supportive of their children and offer compliments about what they do well. Improved behavior from adults on the sidelines of sports games will make the players less stressed about doing well, and they will continue to love the game.

26 thoughts on “Why I quit soccer

  • October 18, 2017 at 9:09 am
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    I could relate to this piece enormously. I grew up playing sports and getting yelled at by players and coaches all the time. But sometimes, you have people who aren’t in the game to win or be competitive. Those were the two reasons I even played sports. I believe that constructively criticising players on the way they play is need for them to evolve into a better play. I do agree that it should be up to the coach, and parents should stay out of it.

  • October 18, 2017 at 8:52 am
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    I could agree in some respects, however I find myself completely ignoring what my parents have said (yelled) to me (particularly my father) During games it really goes in one ear and out the other. After 9 out of 10 games he will think I played wonderfully. But he will mention my mistakes which I can understand because he conducts himself in way that does not make me feel as though I am being criticized. It is more of a conversation than a “what you did wrong.” That being said he will occasionally say something that I do not understand and I’ll write it off by saying I think you say something wrong. Or something along those lines to ease the tension of what he misinterpreted.

  • October 17, 2017 at 11:21 am
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    I agree, as you get older the expectations to do well is higher

  • October 17, 2017 at 10:51 am
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    i totally agree since can totally relate to this. My dad is a very angry fan when it comes to soccer. I always loved his support that he gave me and how he would always show up to every game I had, but when i’m on the field and my friends would find an old man on the side screaming in arabic they would automatically know that’s my Dad. It always made me so embarrassed and stressed when i hear him yelling which affects on how I play during the game and that was one of the reasons I lost interest in playing soccer too!

  • October 17, 2017 at 10:43 am
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    I feel like the role of a parent and coach is being misinterpreted. As a parent, coach, or even just a spectator watching the game is very stressful. I mean parents or whoever driving you to every game and practice also the coach showing up at every single one it takes a lot to be able to do that and when you make them do that it should be expected to be criticised for something you spent all that time practicing for. Yes some parents and coaches go a little too far but in the end they do it because they care for you. You aren’t going to learn much from just messing up and no one not saying anything and if you’re nervous about messing up that’s fine it’s totally natural to be a little nervous. As a athlete myself i get scared of mess up especially since my sport is one on one. My coaches i’ve known for about 9 years and I have family that’s always show up at my tournaments. Yeah the pressure is on but they are there to help you. You may not see it but they are. that’s just my thinking of what parents and coaches do for you for sports.

  • October 17, 2017 at 10:29 am
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    I can relate to this article because growing up I always got a lot of criticism on how I play certain sports and it can get into your head. And when it gets inside your head you think about it way to much and make mental mistakes because it’s in your mind.

  • October 17, 2017 at 10:29 am
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    I relate to this a lot as well. I play sports and I also have a lot of pressure put on me to do well. I think that the coaches put a lot on the line to make sure their students do well at practice and they want to show what you’re capable of. They want the best for you and sometime you got to realize that. But overall I believe there is too much pressure on the player.

  • October 16, 2017 at 11:22 am
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    I can relate to this. Coaches and parents can be very vocal and put a lot of pressure on the player. It can be hard to play when you’re worried about making mistakes. It would be a lot better if coaches and parents focused on positive feedback and encouragement.

  • October 16, 2017 at 10:05 am
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    I agree parents should stay out of it. If your parents need to be the ones telling you to fix things then there’s a problem. I also think that if you can’t handle the yelling from coaches then you shouldn’t do the sport because it’s all to get you better you can’t let that get to you.

  • October 16, 2017 at 9:35 am
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    I agree. Sometimes parents are the ones that stress you out more than the actual activity. It would be really nice if they gave more encouragement than criticizing every single thing that you’re doing.

  • October 12, 2017 at 10:08 am
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    I agree because negative comments directed towards athletes often harms their performance and, in the long-term, their genuine passion for the sport. Parents should offer encouraging and positive comments towards their children playing sports. They should leave constructive criticism to the coaches. If parents do feel the need to point out areas of improvement for their child, they should do so during practice and not during competitions.

  • October 3, 2017 at 2:47 pm
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    Well written no tldr needed

  • October 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm
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    ¡Bueno!

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:37 pm
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    This topic is not commonly discussed even though it should be. Nicely written!

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm
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    I like the article!! I also feel the same way. Too much pressure from our parents can really depress us. I always get super nervous when I know my mom has high expectations on me 🙁

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm
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    I have considered quitting swimming for this reason and am struggling with letting these types of comments from my parents. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I feel that we still need our parents’ encouragement with a good balance of helpful pointers.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm
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    This is really interesting, I understand that feeling. My parents don’t pressure me so much, but I do put a lot of pressure on myself to do better.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm
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    I have never personally experienced this stress in relation to sports, but I agree that many times parents and coaches can become over enthusiastic in their motivation. It could definitely sometimes be more helpful if parents could focus on positive feedback.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm
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    I grew up with my dad as my coach so I can definately relate to how much pressure parents put on their kids. Its hard but the work pays off.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm
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    High school sports should be fun and supportive. Excessive criticism and blatant and disrespectful remarks do not help a student athlete grow and learn from his/her mistakes. It is a brave thing to do if a student athlete decides to quit and support him/herself and allow themselves to heal. After all, good sportsmanship is a key factor when it comes to all types of sports/games.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm
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    I completely agree with you. I personally felt pressured before, during and after any sports games I used to play because my parents always expected nothing less than perfect. It always feels good to be appreciated and cheered on rather than stressed and I’m glad you decided to put yourself first before keeping yourself pressured.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:28 pm
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    I do understand what parents are trying to do and although they do believe it helps, it does only stress the players out more to live up to their parent’s expectations which may distract them from the game and only cause their performance to become worse.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:28 pm
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    I totally relate. The reason I don’t play soccer anymore is because of all the negativity that was all around .

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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    I feel the same way about sports and pressure from parents & coaches. I also feel like this motivates us to work harder but sometimes people over do it & it does cause stress.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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    I can totally relate to this! Players should be focused on the game, not focused on what the people in the crowd think. Sometimes it can be very distracting as well if even your close friends are there watching your every move.

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