I Want to Quit Gymnastics

Subject: I want to quit gymnastics.

Sex: female
Age: 13
Gymnastics Level: Level 7 (Rhythmic)

Hi,
I came across your website and wanted to ask you how I can ask my parents and my coach if I can quit rhythmic gym.
I have been doing gym since I was 5 or so and two years ago I was in the Elite program. That program didn’t work out so I went back to Levels. However, now I am in Level 7 I have been finding it hard to adjust as I am encountering back and muscle pain. I also visited a physiotherapist recently who told me that my feet weren’t in perfect condition. I don’t enjoy gym anymore but at the end of last year I said I would be doing Level 7 this year and I have most of my four routines.
I feel that my academic life is also under pressure as I have been accelerated and I am nervous that my grades will slip. If I quit gym then I will have extra homework time.
Please answer and thankyou. Your website is great.

First, thanks for the kind words about the web site.

I am NOT Unbiased

This is a difficult question for anyone and I have a particular point of view about it, but you are the only one who can really make this decision.

They ALL Wish They Hadn’t Quit

As a former coach, I have seen what I consider far too many gymnasts quit the sport, both in my own gyms and in other’s gyms. In my own gym, every team gymnast, at some point, came back and told me that they wished they had not quit. Not most of them, every one! They all had different reasons (excuses) why they quit, but whatever their reasons at the time, they all regretted it later. Something for you to think about.

Once You Quit, It is Hard to Impossible to Come Back

In spite of the high profile comeback attempts, that are highly visible in artistic gymnastics (Nastia Liukin and Sahwn Johnson, for example), it is really difficult to comeback. Certainly much harder than somehow modifying your current training program would be. You might want to give some consideration to how you might, temporarily or permanently, alter your training, instead of quitting outright.

You Are an Exceptional Gymnast and Girl

The very fact that you were ever in an Elite program indicates that you are an exceptional gymnast. You must have exceptional talent, skills and experience. It is my belief that people should find what they love to do the most, always seek to achieve their goals and dreams and then they will be both successful and happy.

Investigate Your Physical Problems

There is nothing trivial about back pain in gymnastics. There are any number of injuries, repetitive stress injuries and physical stress that can afflict gymnasts, especially if their training is not carefully balanced. You should definitely get professional medical evaluation of your physical problems and take the advice of your medical professionals.

It is Easy To Make Excuses

It is a common human trait to make (up) excuses when an individual has already made up their mind about what they do or don’t want to do. I am not saying this is what you are doing, but you should think about what your real reasons are. It seems as if you have decided you don’t want to continue in the sport (which, if so, needs no other reason than for you to follow your heart), but you may be reaching for reasons as to why not to continue. There is no way I can really know what is in your heart, but I recommend you look inside yourself, so you understand what is really going on.

So Far No Help for You, Right?

Well, so far, I have not given you any help on what you asked me to help you with, so it seems. But I do think you really need to make a serious evaluation of what is going on, why you want to quit and when you want to be done. The answers to all those questions are all inside of you. You merely need to look inside yourself and the truth is somewhere in you. It may be obvious, or it may be much deeper, but the answer is there.

Then Just Tell the Truth

Once you believe you really know why you want to quit (or what is making you feel like you do) and what else is going on, then you just need to sit down with your parents and coach and tell them the truth. The truth has a way of being convincing. If you are telling the truth about wanting to quit and why, they will see that truth in you.

Education is Important

I am a firm believer in the value of education. But I also know that almost all team gymnasts do better in school when they are gymnasts, than they did before they were on team or in gymnastics. The discipline of gymnastics seems to help gymnasts do well in school, so it is not necessarily something you need to worry about, but of course, you should monitor your schoolwork and grades, to make sure your grades don’t suffer.

You Are Not Alone

There are many gymnasts your age who are reconsidering their participation in the sport. In fact, age 13 is one of the most common ages that gymnasts quit. As you mature, you naturally re-evaluate your life, social life often seems to become more important, the time commitment for gymnastics seems to interfere more with other things in your life and you want to make more of your own decisions. But with so many more things going on in your life, it is still important to keep hold of what is the essence of your life.

Quitting Gymnastics Leaves a Huge Void

Gymnastics has been such a big part of your life, you need to understand the void (the big hole in your life) that quitting will leave. I am often worried when gymnasts quit, that they will make poor decisions when they begin looking for something, that will have as much intensity in their life as gymnastics did. There are not many things to safely replace quitting something you have done so long, with such intensity and at such a high level. Please be careful, if you do end up quitting.

Summary

So my advice to you is:

  • Get professional evaluation and help with your physical problems
  • Reevaluate why you want to quit
  • Try to figure out how you will feel in a few years or much later in your life (like when you are telling your own kids about your gymnastics career) about quitting
  • Figure out what else you want to do with your life (and what will replace the big hole that quitting gymnastics will leave)
  • Consider somehow altering your participation in the sport as an alternative to quitting
  • Get your facts and feelings clear in your mind and then schedule some time to talk to your parents and coach.
  • Tell them the truth
  • Listen to their advice and comments, but keep your own true inner feelings in mind and be sure to express them.
  • Feel free to contact me to help with anything else, to ask any other questions or if you need help in successfully keeping up with gymnastics and school.

Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck in your future life!

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