As kids get older the competitive level of the youth sports program they belong to is bound to change. Anyone can register for PeeWee football or Little League, but travel leauges and school teams often have a try-out process. Popular teams might see dozens of hopeful youth athletes trying out for a few open spots, and that means that some of the kids won’t make the team. While we should encourage our kids to go out for the team if that’s what they want to do, sometimes not making the team doesn’t even occur to them as a possibility until they are looking at a list their name isn’t on. No one likes being cut, but here are some things you can do when you child doesn’t make the team:
1. Encourage them to ask the coach what they can do for next season.
There is a reason your child didn’t make the team and chances are it has to do with a fundamental skill—throwing, catching, dribbling, passing, etc. Their skills just didn’t hit the mark for this particular team. But that doesn’t mean that this is the end of their athletic career (be sure to stress that fact!) Any player that is willing to ask for help/advice is going to catch the attention of a good coach. It shows dedication, commitment, and a willingness to improve, all characteristics that coaches love to see in youth athletes. That coach might remember your son or daughter next season, especially when they see that their advice has been put into practice!
2. Give them time to be upset.
We’ve all been in situations where we really wanted something and it just didn’t work out. While we all need a shoulder to cry on, sometimes you just need to cry it out in order to get through it. It’s okay for our kids to be upset (looking at you helicopter parents!) when they don’t make the team. If you were to say something like, “well soccer is stupid/boring/pointless anyway, we’ll find something else for you to do” you’re essentially telling them they can’t be upset anymore; what they like to do isn’t important enough to warrant being upset. Don’t deny their feelings, but rather acknowledge them by saying something like “I know you’re very disappointed. It’s really hard to get cut like that.” Be supportive and understanding and let them be sad for a little while.
3. Suggest they join another team.
Once a little time has passed, encourage your child to join another team. If they really love to play there are plenty of others chances! Most towns have several youth sports programs of varying levels of competition. If they didn’t make the travelling-around-the-country All Star squad that doesn’t mean their season is totally over. Look for intramural programs, school programs, community leagues, and more. There might even be a family league that everyone could get involved with. The last thing we want is to let our kids quit playing youth sports simply because they didn’t make one team. Focus on how much they love the game and encourage that spirit.