Maybe you no longer find playing your sport as fulfilling as it used to be. You think if you stopped playing altogether you would be better off.
Perhaps you are feeling a bit slower, a bit older and wonder if it's time to hang up your cleats.
Maybe you have been injured and are considering your return to play with some trepidation. You may think perhaps you should just stay away.
There are myriad situations which may prompt an athlete to ask the ultimate question. The decision to stop playing your sport is a big one, and can be quite daunting to consider. You are fortunate that you have the option; many athletes have the proverbial rug pulled out from under them through career-ending injury or forced retirement as they are replaced by younger talent.
It's never easy, but there are some questions you can ask yourself that might help to put everything in perspective. Once you can see more objectively, the decision to make will become clearer.
Of course as an athlete the word "quit" is not in your lexicon. In making your decision, you need to understand "quit" is not what you are doing. If through much soul-searching and rational thought you decide to leave your sport, rest assured you are not "quitting." You are making a mature, informed decision that is best for you.
Your responses to these questions should reveal your beliefs about yourself, your sport, and what is truly in your heart, head and gut on this matter. In typical Socratic fashion, follow-up questions will challenge those beliefs. What emerges is valuable dialogue that gets to the true heart of the matter.
So what questions should you ask yourself to get started? Try these:
If injury prompted your decision-making, ask yourself:
Many of the issues or feelings you may be experiencing don't have to result in a black and white decision. Burnout, fear or anxiety, lack of confidence, all have a very real impact on how we feel about playing. But they can also be overcome using mental tools and focused effort on your part. A sport psychology consultant, for example, can teach you how to use these tools to help you regain confidence, to love the game again and to get back whatever it is you think you may have lost.
The decision to stop playing, in most cases, is and should be yours alone. Sometimes talking it out with others can be helpful. Parents, family, coaches and friends are all great people to bounce your thoughts off of. Just be sure to take into consideration that the closer they are to you and the situation the more difficult it may be for them to step back from their own biases and perspective. Ultimately, though, your support system should want you to do what is best for you. If you choose to seek assistance, a professional can guide you through the questioning process and help you to put everything in perspective through an objective lens.
So ask yourself the tough questions, see how you feel when you consider alternatives to sport, talk with others and seek professional support if you wish. And keep in mind that no decision is necessarily set in stone. What is right for you now might change in the future, and maybe you will decide to go in the other direction later. Just remember it's up to you.
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