How to Leave a Team

Football team (12-14) and coach with trophies, smiling, portrait

Players often become frustrated with their progress in a sport and their role on a team. This happens to beginners just learning a sport, as well as the best athletes at the highest level. Sometimes it is best to change teams or competitive levels. Weigh this decision carefully and leave the rest of your teammates in the best possible position.

Leave No Regrets

Make sure you are making the right decision. Unhappy team members should take a step back, analyze their scenario and not make the decision to leave rashly. Many athletes quit a team in frustration and later regret it. List all of the reasons why you want to leave. Then list all the things you like about the situation, and what you hope to gain from a new situation if you plan to continue in your sport, or the benefits of your free time if you're planning on abandoning it. Consider all these points carefully before going past the point of no return.

Talk to Your Coaches

Speak constructively with your coaches about your desire to leave. Meet during a gap in the competitive schedule, at least 24 hours after the previous event. Do not talk while emotions are still high from a victory or loss. Raise whatever concerns you have -- playing opportunity, coach demeanor, team relationships, time demands, expense, burnout, etc. -- and seek feedback from your coach. Clear up any misunderstandings that could influence your decision. Keep the conversation confidential. Take time to digest the results of the conversation fully. If you still want to leave the team after further consideration, explain your decision clearly to your coach. Unless you have a severe grievance with the coaches, thank them for the opportunity to play for them.

Consider Team Needs

Never leave your teammates in a lurch. Give your coach ample notice of your departure so the team can find a replacement player, if necessary. Don't leave a team abruptly unless your well-being is at risk. How you handle the exit could follow you in sports for years, for better or worse, so make the separation as amicable as possible.

Thank Your Teammates

Remember you are leaving a team. Other athletes -- and often their family members as well -- supported you while you were in the group. Don't leave without thanking them for their help. Be a good teammate right to the end. Remember that you will be competing against these players or seeing them in social scenarios going forward.