Jackrabbit Tips & Tricks

The Difference Between Quitting & Ending

“My daughter wants to quit.”

“I quit gymnastics when I was 12.”

“If she wants to do dance team, then she is quitting gym.”


It ‘s such a loaded word.

And it deserves to be. After all, unless it is in reference to a vice like drinking or smoking, nobody thinks being called a quitter is a compliment!

Yet, we throw around the word “quit,” which is defined as “to give up in the face of defeat of lacking hope,” with both a frequency and casualness when describing our children ending engagement in a sport or an activity.

Everybody pay attention because this is important: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QUITTING AND ENDING.

Why the big deal regarding semantics?

Because semantics or not, labels matter. And, I don’t want children to think of themselves as quitters when they go through the process of ending or retiring from gymnastics.

Besides, we all have to end things at one time or another, whether it is a job, activity or relationship. And, the truth is, most of us are really bad at it. We hide from confrontation or walk away without saying thank you and goodbye. Instead of unraveling our obligation, we damage or ruin what was once a good thing so we don’t have to deal with the discomfort of saying goodbye.

One of the reasons why we enroll our kids in sports like gymnastics is to teach valuable life lessons. I think that it is vital that we teach our kids how to end things in a way that produces closure and honors the time spent and relationships made during the activity.

So, instead of sending the message that the decision to leave labels them as a quitter, reframing it to help our kids understand that ending is a normal part of life both honors their time spent in the gym and gives them the dignity to use this lesson moving forward in life.

Here is the difference between quitting and ending:

Quitting is giving up in the middle of something.

Ending is stopping when something is completed.

Therefore, we encourage athletes to stop at the end of season, school year or some other logical stopping point. Unless the situation is unbearable, we encourage the kids to see it though until this logical end so we can help him/her evaluate whether this is a temporary problem or one that signals that it is time to move on.

Quitting is highly emotional and usually involves reneging on a promise to complete work.

Ending, while it can also involve emotion, is rationally planned and all of the stakeholders know of the planned end date.

Whereas quitting is typically impetuous, there is a thoughtfulness and logic that surrounds ending. For example, typically we will schedule a tapering down of practices to test the waters for the athlete and make the change a gradual one. Ending is not a one-day event.

Quitting usually results in the quitter feeling embarrassed to return to the activity to resume or to just visit and say hi because of feelings of shame.

Ending means that the retired athlete feels comfortable coming out of retirement to resume the activity or coming to the gym to say hi and see friends.

Quitting makes kids feel like they have permanently sealed a door. Ending leaves the door open to return should he or she discover that they miss gymnastics or at least they feel comfortable coming to visit!

Quitters often have no plan or course of action to take upon quitting the activity.

Enders have structured a plan to make the transition out of the gym a smooth one.

An exit plan is essential when ending anything. When kids quit, often no one has had the time or opportunity to discuss what options are available for the child. When kids end, parents, coaches and the athlete have the time to talk about what steps might happen next. At JAG, we have helped our retire athletes find joy in dance, diving, track, volleyball, theater and soccer, just to name a few! And, yes, we even have helped athletes transition to other clubs if their goals are no longer a good fit for the values of our club.

Quitters quit because something drives them away.

Enders stop because the activity no longer suits them.

Unresolved fear, frustration, pressure or conflict can lead a child to want to quit a sport. Whenever possible, we want to seek to resolve these types of issues before a child quits the sport. On the other hand, there will come a point in time when a child loses interest or develops a stronger interest in something else. Or, a child might decide that the amount of time, energy and discipline required is simply not worth it. This is when ending is appropriate. Of course there are times when the ending process is hastened because of injury, but even then, how we help the athlete deal with the transition from the gym will help shape whether he/she feels like it was a quit versus an end.

Remember, childhood is a magical time of sampling activities and passions, picking things up and putting them down to help the child understand what they are good at and what they enjoy. What serves them at age 7 may not at 17. And that is okay.

Remember, even the great ones eventually retire: no one is an athlete forever. Even Michael Jordan made a transition. And no one would call Jordan a quitter!

Remember, if your child moves on from gym, a little piece of him or her always remains with the heart of the club. So, check in once in awhile to let us know how you all are doing, because as teachers we never quit or end caring about the kids and families who are part of our community.

Besides, we always love hearing from our retired athletes!

For more great information and experiences, visit the JAG Gym Blog.

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