Are you a parent to a teen who spent a massive portion of their lives on the training field or swimming countless practice lengths in the pool? As your child moves through their varsity years, there is a good chance that sport will no longer be the central focus of their existence. That inevitably means an intense post-sport transition, and it can often be just as hard on you as it is on them! Here’s what to expect and how to cope.
Regardless of whether your teen has made the choice to resign from sport on their own, or whether they didn’t quite make the cut for the varsity team, it is important to celebrate what they have achieved up until now.
They may feel that they are going from ‘hero’ to ‘zero’ when they leave their sport. It is good to remind them that that isn’t the case. Their involvement in sport has helped to mould them into the person they are today and has taught them a host of excellent life skills, such as focus, dedication, and resiliency.
Educate them about wise choices
Most teens who spend their high school years training and playing sport will have led extremely structured lives. When they enter varsity and are no longer engaging in this sport, they suddenly realise the amount of freedom that they have gained. This can feel exceptionally overwhelming and could lead to them making some bad decisions that could land them in trouble.
Do your best to guide them by providing them with the knowledge and support that they need to successfully navigate their way through this new-found independence.
There is no escaping the fact that transitioning from a life that revolved around sport is certain to come with a deep sense of loss. Your teen may find themselves mourning their old life and could even experience symptoms of depression as they gradually move into this new phase. Reach out to them with understanding and compassion and make sure that they know that you are always there should they need to talk.
If the symptoms remain for longer than a few months or seem severe, take action by seeking help from a professional.
Some parents who have spent the last few years cheering on the side-lines for their athletic teen might also mourn the change when their teen decides to give up their sport.
Instead of pressurising them to continue with it, do your best to be respectful of their choice. In many cases, just because a teen is good at something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s what they are truly passionate about. Encourage them to explore other avenues and to delve deeper into the many different areas that interest them.
Most importantly, be patient with both your teen and yourself as each of you moves away from the sport that was such a big part of your lives. Rest assured that you will both soon find your new ‘happy’ and your new ‘normal’.