If you are a parent of a young athlete, perhaps one of the most gut wrenching times in sports, is what you should do when your child comes home and informs you that they have just been cut from their team. Your son or daughter could be on a youth baseball team, softball team, soccer team, or they could be trying out for a spot on their high school team. It really doesn’t matter as it can often feel like you as a parent, have had the wind knocked out of you. So what should you say and what should you do? I know many parents get extremely angry and immediately want to go speak to the coach. Some parents try to stay out of it and let their child handle the situation and yet others will attempt to take the situation as a positive and encourage their child to try another sport or activity.
First of all, let’s discuss why kids are cut from teams. Obviously, some sports teams like baseball, softball or basketball only have a certain number of spots on the team. Usually, most coaches on these types of teams will hold tryouts and should inform the parents and athletes that they are only taking a specific number of kids on the team. However, some other sports like swimming, cross country or even tennis and golf, can have A,B, or even C teams if the coach is willing to take the time to work with the athletes. Some schools don’t have the funding, but I believe if there is a will there is a way to find a spot for all the kids that want to participate. I believe it is important for you as a parent to ask questions to the coach before the tryouts begin to make sure you know the length of the tryout, the number of kids who will make the team and the criteria the coach has for choosing who makes the team. If the coach is evasive about answering these questions, I would be hesitant about having my child sign up to tryout for this team.
How are some kids cut? Some coaches put a list on their door. Sometimes the list has the names of the kids who made the team and sometimes it contains the names of the kids who were cut. Some coaches leave email messages or voice mail messages or may just give the athlete a note stating whether they make the team or are cut from the team. I feel the best way to inform a young person is to tell him/her in person and to tell them why they are being cut. Often, this conversation can make a very positive or negative impact on this young athlete. If you just stick a list on your door, or send an email telling these athletes that they didn’t make it, you could possibly contribute to the end of that young person’s involvement in sports. Their confidence could be effected, they may think they aren’t any good and they may believe they will never have what it takes to succeed. However, if you speak with the athlete in person and give them a straightforward reason about why they are being cut and give them some positive feedback about the areas they need to improve in, I believe you could have a very positive impact on their continuing in the sport.
I recently discussed this topic on my weekly radio show and had some great comments from some callers. One caller mentioned that when he was cut from his high school basketball team, the coach told him he thought he would have a lot of success in wrestling and even brought the young man to the wrestling room. This young man made the wrestling team and participated on it throughout his high school career. Another caller mentioned that after his 12 year old son was cut from the baseball team, he tried out for track and ended up getting a partial scholarship to participate in track in college. As we all know, in life we all fail, sometimes multiple times on the same project. However, I believe if we can take this rejection and make it a catalyst to help us grow and develop, this negative situation can become a positive one as well. As a parent, or coach, give that young person a little while to be upset, but then help guide them to make something positive out of the negative. If you do, you will have helped this young person more than you may ever imagine.