Trying out for a team, or a place on a squad can be stressful for athletes of any age. As parents of young athletes, you will be well aware that your kids look to you for reassurance and guidance before, during and after tryouts and team selections. We know that sometimes saying the right thing during the build up or reacting in the right way afterwards can be a mine-field. Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare your child for try-outs from an emotional and psychological perspective.
- Point out that winning a spot on the team is about trying their best and putting in the maximum amount of effort.
- Make them aware that sometimes it’s not always the player that gets the most points or rebounds that gets a place, the coaches who make the selections are looking a team of people with a range of skills.
- Ensure that they know there is a possibility that they won’t make the team and encourage them to realistic about his or her chances.
- Finally, as a parent, find the balance between optimism and pessimism. Being too much of one or the other can result in undesirable feelings over confidence or negativity and defeatism about the try-out.
In the event your child doesn’t make the team, try seeing it from their perspective. They have received a hit to their self-esteem. They are embarrassed because of the rejection, exclusion from an activity, and denial of social connection with fellow athletes.
If your child doesn’t make the team, here are some tips:
- Don’t overreact. Of course you both unhappy that they didn’t make the team but let them know that you’re happy they tried their best.
- Offer to listen. Listen to the pain, the disappointment, the anger, and how unfair they think it is.
- Validate the feelings. Let your child vent, and make sure they know your listening. Give them a change to share their disappointment without adding your feelings and frustrations, it is possible they will take these feelings on as their own, increasing anxiety and possibly causing feelings of guilt.
- Don’t paint them as a victim. This will only create more disappointment. Explain how coaches pick a team. Ask your child whether they could honestly say they were above the average of the rest of the players, or the same as.
- Develop new goals. Together create new goals and training plans so that your child is more ready for the try-out next year.
- Consider talking with the coach. In a non-confrontational way, speak with the coach about why your child didn’t make the team, and what they can do to improve their chances for next year. If feedback is offered go through this together and take the positives as well as the negatives forward into their new goal or plan.
Kids bounce back fast, missing one basketball opportunity probably won’t be the end of the world. Remember, whether your child plays in Division 1, 2, or 3 at a basketball club or competes in National Championships, their enjoyment in the sport is what’s most important.