Hey Coach,

My daughter has been playing basketball since she was 8 years old. She started at our local parks department, and rapidly moved into travel ball. The problem is she is now 13 years old, 5’1”, and not going to get much taller. She is a good athlete, but her interest in basketball is ending. I want to guide her into a new sport, although I worry she is going to be too far behind to be successful. Should she continue in basketball or start anew?
– Stay or Go

Dear Stay or Go,

There are not many questions that I can answer without much thought, but your situation is common in athletics, and I can give you an easy answer.

Start something new.

Too often we make decisions based on the investment we have placed into an endeavor, rather than the opportunities ahead. For the economists among us, this called the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and it is a form of irrational decision making that leads us to remain in place when better opportunities exist elsewhere.

So, let’s look at the facts, and decide based on the opportunities ahead, rather than the investments behind. Current Facts: your daughter is 5’1”, a good athlete, an experienced basketball player, and losing interest.

What are your current opportunities? Remain in the same sport, or try something new.

In remaining in the same sport, we will find some comfort, but get a common outcome.  If she is already losing interest, the most likely result is that her taller, more interested peers will get more play time. She will eventually leave the sport in some level of disappointment.

But what of the other choice? What if we seek out a new sport?

Well, there will be some initial fear of starting something new. But facing fear strengthens resolve. And resolve leads to engagement, and an engaged athlete is a successful athlete. It won’t take long to make the change from her old sport to her new one. She may not start every game, but I’ll bet you will see her play time steadily increasing.  For your daughter, she will most likely see a brighter future ahead in a new sport.

But what if she doesn’t? What if she hates the new sport, and longs for the return to basketball?

Oddly enough, that is a great outcome too. Because in leaving basketball to try something new, she rediscovered the reasons she liked to play basketball in the first place. She can return to her sport knowing that why basketball is her chosen sport.

So go, start something new. What you gain the from the experience will far outweigh the comfort of staying put.

– Coach Grant

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