The following is a great pre-tryouts tip sheet to
help coaches and parents make it as positive an experience as possible
for our kids, even if they don't make a team. This is soooo important. Please read and share.
Tryouts Tips: A Responsible Sports Playbook
From U.S. Youth Soccer and the Positive Coaching Alliance
the soccer team can be one of the most difficult challenges that youth
athletes can face – both physically and emotionally. And
making the team can be hard, no matter how talented or driven the
athlete - as the well-documented tale of basketball icon Michael Jordan
not making his high school team as an underclassman illustrates.
So this preseason, as tryouts get underway, how about taking a positive approach to tryouts? How can we help kids manage this process and stay positive?
important to remember the positives in the tryout experience – and that
these positives exist whether or not your young athlete makes the final
Tryouts are one of the many experiences in youth sports that prepare us
for similar situations in our adult life, such as college applications,
job interviews and more.
The experts at Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) have a few good tips for you and your young athletes as the tryout process unfolds this preseason:
1. Set Goals: Before
the tryout process kicks off, sit down and have a conversation with
your young athlete(s) about what their goals are for trying out and
playing on the team. Give them positive assurances that no matter the
outcome, you support them and are proud of them. Talk about other
opportunities that might be available in your area if they don’t make
the team. By talking about goals and outlining alternatives, the tryout
process won’t feel so "do-or-die" for your young athlete.
2. Focus on Effort:
As your young athlete enters the tryout process, remind him or her that
they can’t control the outcome – whether or not they make the team.
What they can control is their effort and attitude. Remind them to give
maximum effort at all times, and to focus on their own effort, not what
other athletes are doing.
3. Keep Athletes Active:
The pressure to perform and the fear of failure can wreak havoc on
young athletes. Responsible Sports Coaches organize tryouts where
athletes are constantly in motion, not standing around watching other
players perform or getting nervous before their turn.
4. Have Fun:
Laughing, having fun and learning new things can all be part of
tryouts. Regardless of the outcome, kids should have a good time during
the tryouts themselves. Laughter can also really help young athletes let
go of stress and stay relaxed. Responsible Sports Coaches never
purposely create a stress-filled environment if they want to elicit the
best performance from athletes.
5. Open to Learning:
While coaches are certainly looking to evaluate players based on skill
levels, coaches also look for athletes who have the potential to improve
(aka a player who is "coachable"). Remind your athletes that they might
make mistakes in the tryouts, but how they handle those mistakes may be
even more important. Responsible Sports Coaches look for this attitude
just as much as they evaluate skills.
6. OK to be Disappointed:
We can help kids cope with their disappointment by reminding them that
it is in fact OK to be disappointed. Empathize with them. Don’t try to
make your child feel better by saying the tryout wasn’t important.
Instead, consider sharing a story of when you were disappointed and how
you overcame that disappointment.
7. "You’re The Kind Of Person":
"You’re The Kind Of Person" statements can really help kids manage
through the disappointment of not making the team. "I know it means a
lot to you, but you’re the kind of person who doesn’t give up easily."
Or "You’re the kind of person who doesn’t let setbacks keep you from
playing the game you love." Use these statements to help shape your
athlete’s self-image in the face of disappointment, and to begin
planning how to move beyond that disappointment.
8. Check YOUR Emotions: Parents, keep their own emotions in check when it comes to your children’s youth sports experience. Having parents who get upset or angry, or want to challenge a coach’s decision about tryouts, just adds pressure on kids.
9. Feedback: One of the best things a coach can do
is give kids honest feedback about their tryouts, including areas where
they can improve for next year. Feeling rejected is hard enough, but
not knowing why you didn’t make the team is even worse. Try to give
young athletes some direction on what they can do to improve, and
encourage them to try out next year.
As you and your athletes prepare for tryouts this season, consider taking a Responsible Sports approach to ensure that, regardless of the outcome, our kids gain valuable life lessons.