Why Girls Quit Playing Sports

We all know the physical, psychological, and social benefits of playing sports for girls, so why do we quit? I talked to some former female soccer players to find out why they quit and here are the most common reasons. 


No matter how much she loves the game, every athlete is subject to burnout. The first step to overcoming burnout is recognizing it. Burnout can disguise itself as a decrease in performance, but unlike the short recovery period that athletes usually experience, in the worst cases, they fail to recover and end up quitting. 

Conflicts of Interest

Today’s athletes are busier than ever, especially student-athletes. Between school and sports, collegiate athletes spend an average of 20 hours per week practicing with their teams and that doesn’t account for individual practice, meetings, and voluntary activities. That doesn’t leave much time for anything else and if you have more than one interest, you ultimately have to make a choice. One of the former players I interviewed said, “I was into art and soccer in high school, but ultimately chose art […] I did end up going to art school, but now I wish I had stuck with soccer.”


It’s always hard to maintain relationships with people you don’t like, but it’s especially challenging when that person is your coach. “In high school, I finally made varsity only to have the coach tell me that she wanted to ‘break me down,'” said another former player, “I wasn’t interested in being broken down, I just wanted to play soccer, so I quit the team.” If you and your coach don’t see eye to eye, do everything you can to address the problem and stick with the game – or find a new team.


Injury was the second most popular reason for quitting sports. Soccer is a relatively safe sport and organizations like U.S. Youth Soccer are doing everything they can to keep it that way, like implementing a heading policy to reduce concussions and neck injuries. Accidents can happen, however, and complex injuries require more than a short period of rest. The good news is that even if an injury does cause an athlete to quit playing, she can still be an integral part of her team by continuing to go to practices and supporting her teammates.


Graduation was, by far, the most popular reason for quitting sports. Things like work and family often leave little time, if any, for exercise much less team sports like soccer. It’s not impossible, though. There are adult leagues and if you have children, you can always get them in on the action. Most youth leagues can always use volunteers, too, if you have a knack for coaching. 

There are lots of reasons why girls quit playing sports, but the good news is that there are also lots of ways to stay involved in the game if you’re not ready to throw in the towel.

Featured Image via Adobe Stock



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