A lot has been written about how “70% of kids will drop out of organized sports by the age of 13.” Not quite sure how the National Alliance for Youth Sports came to this conclusion, but let’s humor them and pretend that it’s the truth. (Disclaimer: I have no reason to doubt them. My interest is not in their statistical methods, but rather how do we solve the problem).
Not to be captain obvious here, but that means that only 3 kids out of 10 will stick to a sport! That’s a big retention problem! And I’m sure we can all draw conclusions from this stat, but let’s face it: kids or people in general quit stuff when it becomes no longer fun.
No matter how much my mom tried to sell me on how important it was to practice my major and relative minor scales, I didn’t enjoy taking piano lessons. I remember I would wait to the last minute and work on my music theory on my way to piano in the car. I can tell you that trying to write musical notes on the staff is difficult going over bumps in the road!
When I finally worked up the courage to tell my piano teacher Mrs. Davis that I was finished with piano, I thought I would get a different reaction. I thought she would try to sell me on why I should stick with it and that I’d regret it later (a tactic that was all too familiar from my mom!). But she stoicly got up from her chair next to the piano and disappeared for a few minutes. And when she reappeared with an old book that was held together with tape in one hand a cassette player (yes, I said cassette) in the other hand, I was perplexed. She put the book on the piano, opened it to a certain page and I read the words: “Moonlight Sonata.” She then pressed the play button the cassette player, and it was then that I realized I wasn’t going to quit.
She had worked me over! “Damn you Mrs. Davis,” I thought! “I was so close to quitting, and you go and pull this on me!”
What made her an outstanding teacher or coach, is that she knew how to create the conditions in piano so that I would enjoy what I was doing. Because we had a strong rapport, and she knew how I liked a good challenge, she created the optimal challenge: learn to play a beautiful song and test yourself along the way.”
She was a feedback master because she knew how to get me to see that I really wanted to keep playing. That all I wanted was to have some fun and be challenged at the same time.
It makes me wonder about that 70% number. I think if coaches, teachers, etc. were more like Mrs. Davis and knew how to build rapport like her, that number would start to drop.