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Nt_loader

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Reply with quote  #1 
What are your thoughts for kids that want to quit soccer?  Some may realize sooner rather than later but ultimately we see a big drop off around the age of 12. 

I have a kid now who wants to quit, he hasn't said it with words but its evident in his practice intensity, doing the minimum, not applying himself, not practicing outside of the team practice, etc.  

I just hate to let kids quit but, if they can't motivate themselves, is there anything we can do?  
paulee

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Reply with quote  #2 
I think the big question would be why they want to quit.  There was a study done years ago on why kids quit sports.
1.  no longer fun
2.  they've lost ownership of the experience
3. they don't get playing time
4.  afraid to make mistakes
5.  feel disrespected

If your kid is feeling one of those things, there may be something that you can do, but there may be another reason.  
The Washington Post had this to add:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/06/01/why-70-percent-of-kids-quit-sports-by-age-13/?utm_term=.98dbcd77fbfb

You can read the article, but I'll highlight the main reasons they listed:
It’s not fun anymore because it’s not designed to be
Our culture no longer supports older kids playing for the fun of it
There is a clear push for kids to specialize and achieve at the highest possible level
There is a cost to be competitive and not everyone is willing or able to pay it

To sum up the author's viewpoint, our sports culture is geared towards the top 1% (witness the DA) and that's going to leave the remaining 99% behind, so it's not surprising that you see so many drop out.  Add in our current technology, and that just exacerbates a natural phenomenon.

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benji

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Reply with quote  #3 
I really wish someone would do a study on what they are defining as "fun". I don't think any kid would stick around if they showed up to practice, scrimmaged the whole time with no guidance, and played a game each week where they just got thrown on the field to play. That's not necessarily "fun" either.

Some things about learning, be it soccer or math or a musical instrument, aren't particularly fun. They're basic, rote technical skills. But what those skills enable you to do then becomes more fun if you can perform the skills successfully. Learning new technique or tactics is fun. Activities that have a purpose and engagement are fun. And, yes, winning is fun. "Fun" does not equate to just goofing around.

I dare say that when a kid says it's "not fun", it's a combination of the following--and all are related to coaching:
* Not learning new skills
* Unengaging activities (poorly designed or overly repetitive)
* Poor balance of focus/discipline (either none or overly rigid--relates to paulee's #4 item as well)
* Over- or under-emphasis on winning (we know about too much emphasis, but it's not fun if nobody cares, either)

Now, these things will vary from team to team, and even player to player within a team. We've all seen kids get demotivated or quit because their personal needs don't match the team's. We can do a great job as coaches for many, but not every single kid. It just isn't going to happen.

But the upshot is, "It's not fun" is too broad. Break it down, and I think you can start to see where we can improve the experience.

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Brianm

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Reply with quote  #4 
Benji ever see kids playing pickup games they have tons of fun with no guidance no adults. Ties into what you said about coaching. Just them playing whatever sport they are playing.

Kids also quit because they don't like it as much as other sports or their friends are no longer playing. Maybe they don't like their teammates and feel unwanted. Maybe to much pressure from home.

There are lots of reasons. Some we can address, others we can't. The big thing that we forget is it is their choice if they don't want to play then maybe they will be happier quitting then being talked into staying.

benji

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianm
Benji ever see kids playing pickup games they have tons of fun with no guidance no adults. Ties into what you said about coaching. Just them playing whatever sport they are playing.

Yup, and they are seeing other players do things, trying to learn new moves and new tricks, learning from each other... instead of just doing what a coach is telling them to, like "pass pass pass get the ball off your foot no don't do that!..." Good coaching will not only teach them skills they don't have, but allow them the freedom to experiment with those skills, even at the risk of a mistake.

Quote:
Kids also quit because they don't like it as much as other sports or their friends are no longer playing. Maybe they don't like their teammates and feel unwanted. Maybe to much pressure from home. There are lots of reasons. Some we can address, others we can't. The big thing that we forget is it is their choice if they don't want to play then maybe they will be happier quitting then being talked into staying.

Yup also. But some of those reasons get rolled up into "it's not fun". It's not fun because my friends aren't on my team. It isn't fun because my parents want me to play but I don't any more. I'm just tired of hearing the number one reasons quit is that "they don't have fun" when it's such a nebulous term that can mean dozens of different things. Just saying "it's not fun" doesn't actually help us identify the things that would make the experience more enjoyable. But in the end, not everyone will stay anyway.

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paulee

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Reply with quote  #6 
Benji brings up a good point.  What's fun for one kid isn't for another.  I had one player years back tell me that they would rather sit on the bench for the A team than play for the B team.  She quit two years later, complaining that soccer should be "fun".
I think that when kids say that it isn't "fun", what they really mean is, "I'm not having my expectations met anymore."  And from there, you can start to narrow things down.
If they expect to not have to practice, and win every game, well ...
On the other hand, if they expect to be coached rather than berated, to be respected rather than dismissed, and to be treated like a human being rather than a means to an end and those expectations aren't being met, that's something else altogether.

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AFB

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Reply with quote  #7 
Recognizing that there are differences between individuals as to what is "fun" is a critical start, but it only complicates matters if we do not define "fun".

If we cannot qualify what "fun" is we cannot begin to quantify why children leave the game. A good place to start is with the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of flow. Basically Csikszentmihalyi postulated that "fun" was a balance between challenge and reward. If there is insufficient challenge the activity lacks meaning and will fail to hold interest. If the challenge is too great relative to the reward it overwhelms. When a balance between challenge and reward is achieved we are in "flow".

Recent research on the physiology of the brain has also offered insights into what we consider to be "fun" activities. Generally, fun has been found to highly correlated to new, novel activities. Things that stimulate new memories are often associated with fun. These activities stimulate dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

What this means for soccer coaches is fairly clear. If your activities are the same old drills, overly repetitive, they will not be seen as fun. If you match the challenge to the reward, a criteria that will vary for each child, it will be seen as fun.

This suggests that programs that discourage sorting players for ability out of a fear of stigmatizing low ability players actually do more harm. Such programs make fun for players remote for the reward is meaningless for strong players and too remote for weak ones. The same is true for the challenge.

Interestingly, yelling constant instructions and criticism seems to be low on the things that reduce fun. Most children simply tune it out. Yelling does not have any positive impact, but as a negative it is not significant.

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"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

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paulee

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Reply with quote  #8 
Alan, I'm not so sure that I'd agree with the idea that criticism is on the low end of things that reduce fun.  
Over the past couple of years, we have had to do some major work rebuilding the confidence of players who play for a specific coach in our area.  A couple of them were ready to quit soccer altogether rather than spend another year with the coach.

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AFB

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Reply with quote  #9 
Paulee,

I found the research intriguing. What harms confidence it seems is not negative criticism, but a lack of positive rewards when they are earned. Look back at the coach's actions. My guess is there was a lack of rewards for accomplishment.

Not all players are the same. Some will have increased stress from criticism and quit. For most, however, it appears to be a lack of reward not negative comments that leads to a lack of fun.

What I found interesting is the research suggested positive praise (reward) is significantly more powerful than negative comments. Ìf you want to improve performance, corrections are important, but only as a lead in to praise for when the correction takes hold.

In a round about way, what I am suggesting is that we need to recognize that a coach's comments have varying degrees of impact. Negative comments tend to be tuned out. More damaging than the negative is an absence of positive. Look back at what makes participation "fun" - the by play of challenge and reward. For many, especially younger players who have yet to develop internal goals and motivation, external praise is a very powerful reward. When it is missing the game is not "fun" and self doubt certainly appears.

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Some wisdom from Winston Churchill:

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else."
paulee

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Reply with quote  #10 
Interesting.  I was having a conversation with a player who was telling me that they were no longer playing for their coach anymore, and their specific comment was, "Nothing is ever good enough", so it would definitely seem to correlate with what you said.
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benji

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AFB
What I found interesting is the research suggested positive praise (reward) is significantly more powerful than negative comments.

Interestingly, that contradicts the old saw (not sure if there was research behind it) that you should have 5 positive things to say for every 1 negative. That would imply that the negative comments are 5x more powerful than the positive ones!

I think AFB is right on that "fun" is appropriate reward for the challenge. And of course, for every player, the corresponding challenge and level of reward is different. So one kid my be having a great time with a particular team, or even in a particular training session, while another my think it's awful.

I think it's pretty clear to most that appropriate challenge is key. But not so obvious is players can vary widely in what they feel is sufficient reward. It might be winning everything. It might be getting lots of playing time. It might be learning new skills. It might just be getting enough positive reinforcement from the coach. And often it's some combination of the above--which is why it's so hard to nail down.

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paulee

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Reply with quote  #12 
Benji, I'm curious if that idea comes from research on myelin?  
the research on how we learn a physical task indicates that when we make a mistake when learning to do something, we build that neural pathway, and then keep reinforcing it.  So the idea is that when we do something incorrectly, we immediately need to do 5 correct repetitions to overlay the wrong neural pathway with the correct one.
I wonder if that sort of bled over into how we should talk to people?

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benji

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Reply with quote  #13 
It's a ratio I'd heard bandied about for a number of years. A quick Google shows it comes from studies by a guy named John Gotteman, in the context of marriage. Now, a coach-player relationship might be different from a spousal one, and I don't know how rigorous the study(s) were.  But I see a kernel of truth to it, especially for players with low self-confidence (sterotypically girls). Remember this cartoon?
[image] 

I can easily envision players hearing "blah blah blah BAD blah blah blah MISTAKE blah blah..." even if the "blahs" are positive, particularly if it's delivered in the wrong way. While I don't know that I achieve a positive 5 to 1 ratio, I don't think it's a bad thing to strive for.

With regard to the neural pathway reinforcement, I often have this exchange with players:
"Have you heard that practice makes perfect?"
"Yes!"
"Wrong. Practice makes permanent."

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AFB

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Reply with quote  #14 
With respect to the issue of which is more powerful, negative or positive conditioning, here is a blog post that explains matters better than I did:

https://pavlok.com/blog/positive-vs-negative-reinforcement-which-is-more-effective/

It cannot be emphasised enough that we must treat our players as individuals. They have different thresholds and desires. This is why it it is also essential that once we get to know our players we group similar players together: competitive, driven players with other competitive, driven players; less driven players in another group. We also need to continually evaluate players, for their likes and motivations change.

There is also research from soccer and other sports that strongly suggests that a program that invests in teaching skills early and in depth will retain players longer. Skill acquisition done properly is viewed as "fun" (see comments above about how the brain reacts to learning new memories and skills) and in later years it leads to success on the field, both personally in being able to retain possession while penetrating defenses, and as a team in more likely winning. Both of these lead to an internal set of rewards and to external rewards (praise, enhanced status).

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Some wisdom from Winston Churchill:

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else."
coachkev

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Reply with quote  #15 

Not only must you define "Fun", you also have to define 'Challenge' and 'Reward'

What is a challenge to one is a condition to others if not communicated properly
What a reward is to one is 'favouritism' to others

For me, FUN is any activity or moment that you WANT to keep taking part in because you are enjoying the experience.
If its helping players to enjoy the experience then hopefully that would be 'Fun' for you

In training I have reduced the activities so they provide the 3C's...
CHALLENGE
COMPETITION
CONSISTENCY
What I have learned over the decades is that when these are present in an activity, then players respond positively and engage more which in turn provides a more fun filled session.

A good question to ask players after every session is "Did you have FUN?".....If you get muted responses then ask for ideas regardless of how many respond.
if they virtually all put hands up shouting YES then you have done a good job.
When kids have fun they LEARN...they associated fun with the task given and more likely to assimilate it into their natural game play.

 

TJBrown

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Reply with quote  #16 
Interesting ideas.  Great general discussion. 

I would like to get back to Nt loader's specific problem.   I think the first determination to made is who or what does the player want to quit on?  

Is he quitting on you as the coach?
Is he quitting on the team or certain teammates?
Is he quitting on the sport?
Is he quitting on his parents (and the pressure they bring to bear on him?

To have this conversation there must be a player / coach relationship.  With 12 year old boys, puberty aged, they are going through tremendous change in all aspects of their lives. I have found too often the coach / player relationship doesn't keep pace with the changes - we continue to coach / relate to a 12 year old as we have coached / related to a 9 year old.   

And something to consider, if he is to the point of quitting, do you really want to force him to remain?  



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paulee

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJBrown



And something to consider, if he is to the point of quitting, do you really want to force him to remain?  



A good point here.  Years ago we had a player who wanted to quit, but her parents wouldn't let her.  What she wound up doing was intentionally playing poorly so that she wouldn't be promoted to the next team.  She wanted to move on to other things, but her parents wanted her to stay, so her solution was to sabotage herself.


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