Trying out for tournament, travel, or “select” youth sports teams can be a stressful time. Hearing that your son or daughter did not make a team, and then having to relay that message can be an emotional event. Before doing so, take a few minutes to think about some reasons why your son or daughter may not have been chosen. If you ask, most organizations will provide critical feedback as to what it may take to make the team next year. If they don’t do that, and instead send a blanket email with no desire to further assist you, you may want to consider another program in the future.
There is not a single (sane) coach in the world who enjoys telling parents or children that a child did not make her or his team for the upcoming season. It is literally the hardest thing we do as an organization that prides itself on development first and foremost.
It is – however – a necessary process. We’ve had 40 kids tryout at one age group, and even by adding another team didn’t get nowhere near all of them on a team.
Here are some possible reasons as to why your child was not selected for a team, as well as some things for your athlete to work on and a couple approaches to avoid doing in the future to avoid being “blacklisted” from some programs:
- Team need. This is a very common reason for not making a team, particularly on baseball teams where you can get away with all sorts of physical attributes but need at least a little bit of balance. For instance, having a whole bunch of speedy players is awesome, but you do need a few kids who can catch, throw, pitch, hit and so on. So sometimes it comes down to pure team need. Coaches Tip: Here’s one way to ensure your kid makes the team next season: do some “thing” awesome. No team, in the history of the world, has bypassed a kid who can consistently barrel a ball, or strikeout batters, or make the toughest catches look routine.
- “Average” player syndrome. While more likely to be prevalent as kids get older and choose a single sport to focus on or leave sports behind altogether, there can be a logjam of kids with relatively the same talent trying out. In this scenario, coaches start looking at anything that separates your child from the pack. How’s his attitude? Can she run fast? Is he a strong fielder? Can he crush baseballs? How much “fight” has she shown? Coaches Tip: Even with average skills, there are a lot of players who have made teams due to their strong intangibles. Something to ingrain in your child if you have not already.
- Skills or attitude. At the end of the day, both of these attributes matter. Higher competitive teams need skilled players with positive attitudes and drive. For some young athletes, they just haven’t developed at the level needed yet. Don’t turn that into a permanent scenario, encourage them to continue to develop their skills! Coaches Tip: When we get down to the kids on the proverbial “bubble” we take into consideration: skill, effort, attitude, and fundamental mechanics. If presented with a choice of equal skill, effort and attitude kids we will 100% of the time take the child with the most sound fundamentals. At higher levels of play, teams don’t have time to rebuild throwing motions, swings, etc. – they have to focus on more advanced skill development.
- “Roto” player/family. This is one of the “blacklist” scenarios for sure. This player tries out for 567 teams each year, and then picks which one(s) they “like” the most, leaving some of the other teams to scramble for players if they also selected the same player. And next year it’s the same process – there is no loyalty at all. If you are trying out for 5, 6, 7 or more teams – seriously – you have no clue what you are looking for from a program. Once coaches hear your name at tryouts, they just cross your athlete’s name off the list. Coaches Tip: If you are trying out between a select few, well researched programs, most coaches are 100% OK with that as they realize that for whatever reason you may earnestly try out for their program at some point down the road.
- You’re the issue. Sorry parents, but it’s reality. If you berate coaches, umpires, or pick fights with the other teams fans – your child’s name is crossed off at tryouts. More subtly, if you are counteracting the team coach’s guidance with your own interpretation of how a play should go or whatever, that’s not going to sit well with most organizations. Coaches Tip: If you want to coach, then go do that. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice the time and energy to coach, then support the woman or man who is giving it 100%.
This list is not an exhaustive list of reasons, however should help you shape the conversation with your child about “why” they may not have made a team. If you take the opportunity to show your support for them, and encourage their continued development, next year’s tryouts may just have a different outcome.