Dropout Rates Among Female Athlete
Young women drop out of sports—starting at about the age of 13—at twice the rate of young men, says Dr. Joan Steidenger, a licensed psychologist who works with athletes.
Why? It’s all about their relationships, says Steidenger, who is writing a book about girls in sports and the importance of their relationships. Young women often feel pressure from boyfriends and friends to spend less time playing sports and more time being social, she says.
“Girls drop out because of boyfriends in particular,” she says. “It becomes a time issue. As you know, sports training in general is time-consuming and these kids have practices every day and games on top of it. Boyfriends start to get upset about this. There is less time for them or for social activities.”
For example, Steidenger worked with a 13-year-old top-rated swimmer who struggled with these issues. “She loved the swimming but was frustrated because of the missed social opportunities and because she wanted to do other sports. Her coach pushed her to only swim.”
As parents and coaches, it’s important to be aware of these issues, says Steidenger. To help keep girls in sports, parents should encourage girls to make sure some of their friends are also athletic, so friends understand the time pressures and can support them to stay in sports.
In addition, coaches should be on the lookout for young women who have mixed feelings about participating in sports and encourage them to talk to sports psychologists or others who can listen. And parents should be open to listening to their female athletes. Sometimes they just want to vent.
Want to learn more about how to be great sports parents and ensure your athletes stay in sports? Check out Kids Sports Psychology, where exclusive member shave immediate access to our full-length interview, “Challenges of Teen Female Athletes,” with Steidenger here:
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P.S. Exclusive members of KSP can learn more about why girls drop out of sports by listening to our interview with Steidenger here:
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