This week in the second part of my series on High School Tryouts, I will focus on the comments often heard from parents or players when they have failed to make the team.┬á These comments vary widely.┬á Some are legitimate and some are rumor or perception.┬á Nonetheless, it is obviously the perception of the person offended that they should have made the team.┬á In our society today, it is much less common for a person to look at himself or herself first for a reason for failure.┬á It is much easier to blame someone else, in this caseÔÇªÔÇªthe coach who cut them.┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á LetÔÇÖs look at some of these comments.┬á Then we can see if there is a better path we can take.
ÔÇ£The coach put his/her favorites on the team.ÔÇØ
This comment is quite common and may often be true.┬á But that doesnÔÇÖt always mean that the coach was wrong.┬á Every coach has to decide which players he or she wants on the team.┬á And while it is largely a talent issue there are other factors involved.┬á Your childÔÇÖs personality may come into play.┬á Some players are loud and proud, others are quiet and timid, and thereÔÇÖs a whole range in between.┬á Just like anywhere else in society, the coach is more likely to notice the loud and proud.┬á My daughter was usually pretty quiet when trying out for a new travel team.┬á IÔÇÖm sure that she was overlooked a few times because she would not come off as a potential impact player.┬á Once she was on a team she usually received positive comments from the coaches as to her effort and attitude.┬á And once she got to know the team and felt accepted, she usually wasnÔÇÖt so quiet.┬á Even though IÔÇÖm her Dad, I would say she would rarely be the first person to impress someone in a group tryout.
At the same time, keep in mind an old saying ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs not what you know but who you know.ÔÇØ┬á Some of the players trying out may have had a relationship with the coach previously.┬á Perhaps they attended a camp or clinic ran by the coach.┬á Maybe the coach knew a lower level or travel coach that the player played for.┬á Almost everyone feels more comfortable working with someone they know where there is a known quantity to deal with.┬á This can especially be true when a coach has to pick a limited number of players out of a large group.
ÔÇ£They kept other players that were not as good as my kid.ÔÇØ
Again, this often may be true.┬á But it can also be your perspective, especially if you are new to the sport and may not understand the advanced skills and issues.┬á Again, personality may be involved.┬á Or it is possible that while your son or daughter is very talented they may have mechanical flaws in their game that a coach may choose not to deal with.┬á For example, I have heard some high school coaches say that they will not take a player who throws sidearm.┬á Throwing sidearm can cause more errors and also lead to injuries in the arm and shoulder.┬á There are some players who have thrown sidearm for many years and may be very good.┬á Some coaches just choose not to go there.┬á This is a habit that is difficult if not impossible to break.┬á You can try to change your player or you can perhaps consider another team.
There are also times where you may be exactly right in your assessment of the situation.┬á The coach may be wrong.┬á He or she may have taken players on their team that are not as good of an athlete as your son or daughter.┬á You might have your child try to talk to the coach.┬á But there isnÔÇÖt a lot you can do otherwise.┬á It is their team and they have a right to take the players they want on the team.┬á I suggest that you have your player try out again next year.┬á Maybe then the coach will see your childÔÇÖs ability and perhaps realize he or she made a mistake in taking some players that didnÔÇÖt pan out.┬á Or not.┬á But if you go around to other parents complaining about not making the team, you have probably just reinforced the coachÔÇÖs decision not to take your son or daughter.
ÔÇ£The coach only takes travel ball players, thatÔÇÖs not fair.ÔÇØ
Perhaps not, but again that is their decision.┬á It is quite common to see this in high school sports such as softball, volleyball, basketball, and soccer.┬á There are a few different levels of this guideline.┬á Some coaches want to have travel or club players on their team.┬á Who wouldnÔÇÖt?┬á These players have stated by their activity that they want to be a better player.┬á As a club or travel player they are playing mostly year round.┬á And in most cases are receiving better coaching, more advanced coaching to be more precise.┬á A high school coach only has a limited amount of time to practice with the team.┬á Travel and club teams tend to have three and four hour (and sometimes longer) practices at a more intense level.┬á A travel or club player is generally a better player.┬á ItÔÇÖs not a guarantee but it is the general rule.
Some coaches will not only seek or require that you do travel or club ball, but will quietly require that you play on certain teams, or even their own team.┬á Is this wrong?┬á I think it may be extreme, especially if they wonÔÇÖt even consider a non-travel player who may be an excellent athlete.┬á But againÔÇª.it is their team.┬á They get to set the guidelines.┬á Many times these guidelines might be what other parents or a booster club has placed on them.┬á This is especially true at high profile programs where they have a reputation for being a strong athletic school.┬á I have been turned down for positions at a high school because they have a favorite travel coach or someone connected to the administration or booster club.┬á See, it happens to coaches too.
I could go on with several more comments but I would prefer to conclude this blog with some suggestions that may improve your childÔÇÖs chances to make the team, perhaps even after theyÔÇÖve been cut.
Before you starting whining to the whole world about how your son or daughter got a raw deal, consider these alternatives:
- Have your son or daughter ask the coach for a private conversation.┬á Then they can ask the coach (if the coach hasnÔÇÖt explained it already) why they did not make the cut AND what can they do to improve their chances.┬á If there are a large number of players trying out coaches donÔÇÖt always have time to talk to each one.┬á They will post cuts on the locker room wall.┬á If your son or daughter takes the initiative they may gain the coachÔÇÖs respect and maybe even a second look.
- Plan ahead.┬á DonÔÇÖt assume because your child was a star at the local rec league that they have the skills to make the team at your high school.┬á Just like looking for a job, do your homework.┬á Try to find out what the coach is looking for.┬á See if the coach offers summer camps and clinics.┬á If you can afford to, have your player take some private lessons from a respected coach and if possible try to join a travel or club team.
- Help educate your child (and perhaps yourself) about the differences between rec ball and travel ball.┬á Rec leagues vary.┬á Some may be very good but most by nature are not geared to be as competitive as travel or club ball.
- Finally, teach your child to take responsibility for its own success.┬á It is up to them to get in better condition, increase strength or skills, and to learn more about their sport.┬á It is not the coachÔÇÖs responsibility; their job is to coach the talent they have on their team.┬á It is not your responsibility to make your child a success.┬á You cannot do that.┬á Your responsibility is to provide the opportunity, guidance, and resources to help your child reach their goals.┬á If they are trying to reach your goals they will not do as well.┬á I can almost guarantee it.
ThatÔÇÖs all for today.┬á I hope this helps.┬á Next week I will discuss coaching differences.┬á I will share how I coach my teams and share how some other coaches run their programs.
Teach first, and win later.
For more sport specific information and links, please visit www.KidznSports.com.