We’ve all been brought up on a steady diet of competitive culture. We’ve been told to push through obstacles and that perseverance is the key to success. We know “winners never quit” and we should “finish what we start.” But, is there a time to quit?
Over the past 10 years, I have worked with thousands of athletes, and most of them should have seriously considered quitting. These players would accuse others for their failure, blame coaches for their poor experience or complain about unfair circumstances. If they had truly considered quitting, they might have completely changed their perspective—or they might have quit to pursue something they’d excel in. Instead, they continued to play the game without any real passion or commitment to improving their craft.
“Why don’t you just quit?”
When the basketball season comes to an end and I debrief with athletes, coaches and parents, I get the same initial responses. They begin to complain and make excuses for why they, their team or their child underachieved. Instead of giving them the validation they’re looking for, I interrupt their story with my favorite question: “So why don’t you just quit?”
Why don’t you stop spending all your time, resources and emotional energy on this thing that frustrates you so much?
Athletes, if your coach is that bad and your situation is so unfair, why not quit?
Coaches, if those parents are so difficult and frustrating, why don’t you quit coaching?
Parents, if constantly having to motivate your child is so exasperating and causes so much tension in your home, why not quit?
No one expects me to ask them that question. I see the look of surprise on their face turn into one of reflection as they repeat the question in their mind. Most people begin to think of reasons they love the game, and why, despite the disappointment, it is all worth it. They change their tune, and I begin to hear a very different story.
But the fact of the matter is if you don’t have some very compelling reasons to renew your commitment to this game, you should quit. Quitting is a very reasonable response to a situation that is not fulfilling. And sometimes, it is a necessary step on the path to success.
In fact, some of the greatest winners are quitters. The ability and wisdom to know when to quit has led to many of the greatest breakthroughs we have seen in history. Inventors quit on failed ideas, scientists quit on faulty theories, leaders quit on flawed strategies and athletes must quit on certain situations and pursuits in order to flourish in others.
Here are three things to consider when thinking about quitting:
1. Am I just giving into laziness?
Laziness is a terrible reason to quit, and one that should be eliminated first. Ask yourself if you want to quit because it is too difficult and you don’t like the challenge. If you answer yes, quitting is not your best option. You may just need to change your approach. View the challenge as an opportunity to grow. Attack what is difficult until you conquer it and it becomes easy. Don’t quit things just because they are hard. If you do, you will have an even harder time navigating through life.
2. Is there a better use of my time?
There are a lot of basketball players with unrealistic goals of playing in the NBA. For those five-foot, nine-inch, mediocre players with no jumping ability, you should probably quit on that goal. Reassess your talents and maximize your potential by investing your time in something more attainable. You can still play the game you love, but your fulfillment in the game (and in life) will be better served if you quit on the impossible and focus on the possible.
3. Compared to quitting, how bad is my situation?
This is a decision point you must get to in order to have a chance to change your situation. When you believe your situation is so untenable, consider the alternative of quitting—quitting the game of basketball, quitting the team or quitting a challenging goal you set for yourself. This will often put the situation in a new perspective. The problem so many of us have is we constantly compare our situation to the best case scenario we see for others. Comparison is the thief of all joy. Once you consider the worst case scenario, you’ll begin to feel gratitude for the opportunity you do have.
THINK THE GAME
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There are many times quitting is the best option. No one ever told me that, and I wish they had. If you’re considering quitting, take some time to yourself and review your goals and how important they are or aren’t. Ask yourself if you are just giving in to laziness and if this is a decision you will be proud of later. Finally, truly contemplate if there is something better you can do with your time. After pondering these questions, you should have much greater clarity on whether or not you should quit.
Too many players waste time working on things that don’t happen very often in games. One thing all great players have in common is their intentional training of game-specific actions
This is a correspondence between PGC owner Dena Evans and a long-time PGC grad. I was so moved by Dena’s response to this player, which the player’s father shared with me, I decided to ask Dena, and this athlete, for permission to share this correspondence publicly. If you know the heart-ache and disappointment of not reaching your team or individual goals, this is a must-read.
Far too often, basketball players make the game too hard with their go to move. They use multiple dribble combo move that rarely result in a successful attack. James Harden
PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.