Cut From The Team

Recently, I consulted with a high school athletic program the day that team selections were announced. As would be expected, the disappointment was obvious on the faces of players who did not receive good news. They were not selected to the team they wanted to be on. There were tears, harsh words, and, mostly, the desire to be left alone.

It is very disappointing not to be chosen for the team for which your child has tried out. Whether your child has been cut from a school, club or league team, it is just plain painful not to be selected.

It is a little easier when your child does not make a team that she wants to play for but there is another team for which she can play. At least for the player who wants to play there still is an option to develop her skills and try again at the next opportunity.

Empathize With Your Child

If your child is cut or not selected to be on the team of choice, you most likely will know how they feel. You will probably hear bad language; see sulking behavior and probably tears. For most kids these painful responses reflect the significance for them of not making the team.

Here are some suggestions for helping your child through this painful time.

  1. Listen, listen, listen:
    • Listen to the pain your child is experiencing

    • Listen to the disappointment they are feeling

    • Listen for the anger they may feel towards the coach

    • Listen to the anger they feel about the way the team was selected

    • Listen to what they think is unfair

  2. Do not offer easy answers
    • Children do not want to hear answers

    • They want to vent and have their feelings heard.

If a child feels that you have listened, and understand and feel their pain, they will be more open to creating a game plan for moving forward.

Learning A Lesson

For some children being cut will be a positive challenge and for some a major disappointment in their lives.

For some, being cut will be viewed as the end of road for this sport. They may come to recognize that they do not have the skill to play the game at the level they want to. They may choose to try other sports or activities which better fit their skills and personality.

Some children, however, will view being cut as a reason to challenge themselves to work harder to get better at their sport:

  • They will take the opportunity to play with whatever team they can in order to get better.

  • They will develop a sense of determination to show the coach that they really do have the skills to play at the level they tried out for.

  • They will seek out individual coaching instruction to accelerate their skill acquisition.

  • Where there is more than one team, they may set their goal to do the best they can at the B level so that they will be selected to move up to the A level when the coach believes they are able to contribute.

Your job as a parent is to be supportive when the disaster first happens. If your child knows he has your support, you can work together to develop a strategy that meet his needs and goals. Because you know the skill level and temperament of your child, you will be able to make suggestions that your child will find reasonable and constructive.

Talk To The Coach

If part of the plan is to try harder, then make an appointment with the coach to find out why your child was not selected and find out what they need to improve on. Do not make this conversation with the coach hostile or you will not find out the information that can be most useful for your child.

Being cut after tryouts is a disappointment for all involved. It can become an emotional disaster if the parent overreacts and creates a crisis. When the parent and child can express their pain and create a positive response, then the child has taken one step forward in learning how to deal with life's disappointments.