On the team: A Responsible Sports approach to tryouts
Tryouts can be tough not only for the athletes, but for their parents and coaches as well. Parents may find it difficult to console a child who has failed to make a team. Likewise, coaches often dread "the cut," informing players that gave their all that they just didn't make it.
So how do we as Responsible Sport Parents and Responsible Coaches help kids manage this process and stay positive, regardless the outcome?
It's true that tryouts can be tough on youth athletes, but it can also be a useful life lesson and preparation for circumstances many will face as adults, such as college applications, auditions or job interviews. Responsible Sport Parents and Responsible Coaches recognize that youth sports can help athletes learn valuable life lessons.
"Disappointment is a great opportunity to reinforce positive character traits like determination and resilience," reminds Jim Thompson, Founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). The experts at PCA have a few good tips that could come in handy as you help your youth athletes process their tryout experience.
Focus on Effort
As your athletes enter the tryout process, you might remind them that they can't control the outcome – whether they make the team or not. What they can control is their effort and attitude. Remind your athletes to give maximum effort at all times and to focus on their own effort as opposed to what other athletes are doing.
'You're The Kind of Person'
The team at PCA reminds us that '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 stop 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.
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 Coaches don't purposely create a stress-filled environment if they want to elicit the best performance from athletes.
Tryouts are never easy – on athletes, coaches and parents alike! But with a little planning by both coaches and parents, and a mind toward protecting our kids' self-esteem and self-worth, we can together create an environment that fosters learning valuable life lessons.
To learn more about helping our youth athletes learn valuable life lessons, visit ResponsibleSports.com.