You trained hard leading up to tryouts, getting in clinic and camp time, putting in hours upon hours in off season time, and spending the last moments of daylight every sundown passing and serving in the backyard. You thought you were ready. You tossed and turned the night before tryouts and got up an hour earlier than you had to because you were just too excited and too anxious to sleep. Tryouts came and went and, even though you were under the impression you did well, your name was omitted from the final roster. What happened? You literally did everything you thought you should do to make the team and you got cut.
Getting cut from a team is an incredibly frustrating and uprooting experience. It shakes the core of your identity as an athlete. As much as it affects you, it affects your parents too. They feel awful for you and wish so badly that you would have succeeded. Parents, we all know how it feels when your child is hurting. It’s awful and often times leaves you feeling helpless.
As we know, and as in life, sports are not always fair. But we must learn from our mistakes and build on our success’s.
Here are some steps to take to help you (and your parents) rise above:
Step 1: Accept the coaches’ decision
Don’t complain that you should have made the squad or reprimand the coaches for their decision. This will make things worse for everyone involved. The truth is, at this point, you don’t know why the coaches chose not to accept you as part of the team. It could have been something as little as too many dropped balls, or maybe you were just south of the cutoff line for the number of individuals the coaches were comfortable accepting. If it makes you feel better, think of all the famous athletes and professionals who have been cut from teams like Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, J.J. Watt, Jordy Nelson, Johnny Unitas…the list goes on.
Parent Translation: Curb your reaction
As much as you may want to strangle the coach, reacting angrily will only exacerbate the situation. It is important that your child understand that you are disappointed for them and not in them. Becoming too upset and blaming the coach, saying it is unfair, or denouncing the decision will only add to your child’s grief and send the message that 1. they are not good enough and 2. it’s okay to take our your frustrations on others.
Step 2: Understand and embrace your feelings
Take a moment to figure out what it is that you’re feeling. Are you angry? Are you sad? Are you embarrassed? Are you confused? Understand your emotions and allow them to happen. There’s absolutely no shame in crying or feeling upset. Don’t push away your feelings and try to convince yourself that you don’t care about what happened. You do care, and that is great! Once you have accepted your feelings, you can use them as fuel to help propel you to get better.
Parent Translation: Validate your child’s feelings
Allow them the space to feel grief, anger, and disappointment. Sympathize. Actively listen. Hug them. Let them know that it is okay and totally normal to feel discouraged. Dismissing the situation by saying it’s “ok” or “not a big deal” or “you’ll get ’em next time” will invalidate feelings. Take a moment and remember for yourself what it feels like to be rejected. Reassure Your Child that They Still Belong. As kids navigate adolescence, their desire to “belong” becomes stronger, almost paramount. Being cut from a team highlights feelings of being different. Remind your child that all kids experience disappointment at one time or another. They are not alone in their disappointment and their disappointment certainly doesn’t make them abnormal.
Step 3: Talk with the coach or coaches
Once you’ve had time to accept the decision and understand what you’re feeling, ask the coach or coaches why you didn’t make the team. They may be able to let you know what skills were needed or in what areas you were lacking. You can use this constructive criticism to help you train harder.
Parent Translation: Schedule a time to talk with the coach and your child
Children tend to focus on being cut as an ultimate disallowance and concrete proof that they aren’t up to snuff. Oftentimes, talking with the coach will allow kids to acknowledge and feel good about their strengths and identify skills that need more work. Sometimes being cut has to do with the availability of certain positions and other factors that are out of the child’s control, not just their imperfections. Go with your child and be their support when they talk to the coach. It is important that your child confronts the coach in a non-emotional and non-confrontational way. Remind them to be open to helpful feedback and not take anything personally. Remind yourself of that fact as well!
Step 4: Reassess your goals
Look back on the tryouts and your lacrosse training as a whole. Do you enjoy playing? Or does it feel like a burden? Lacrosse isn’t for everyone and you should be completely honest with yourself about whether or not you still want to play. If you don’t, it doesn’t indicate that you’re a failure or that you give up too easily. There may be a better sport or activity out there that’s a better fit for you! If you do still want to be a lacrosse player, continue on to the next step: creating a plan of action.
Parent Translation: Encourage something different if necessary
Be realistic about your child’s abilities. If they didn’t make the team and show no joy playing the sport, perhaps they are better at a different sport or activity. Offer to help them work on making a different team instead if that’s something they want. Sports, clubs, or even artistic ventures are all places they can excel and feel a part of a team.
Step 5: Create a plan of action
If you do still want to be a lacrosse player, how will you train and improve? Look into playing in leagues or skills programs that are a little less intense than a club team. Take lessons if you can. Reflect back on what the coach told you were skills needed and incorporate those into your training. You can also ask your new leagues or skills programs coordinator or lessons coach to watch you closely to see what part of your game needs the most help. You can also ask those who did make the team what they did to prepare.
Go to the games of the club team you were cut from. Show the coach that you are genuinely interested and that you mean business. Take notes on the other players who made it over you. What are they doing differently? What are they doing well? What mistakes are they making? Analyze their every move.
Parent Translation: Help them practice
Give them time to mourn the fact that they weren’t selected for the team, then ask if they still want to do whatever the sport or activity is. If they do, then encourage them to start practicing. You might even suggest some videos or articles they could watch or read to to help them improve. Driving them to whatever supplemental training is available will help tremendously if you can find the time to do so. Even making some space in the backyard or on the side of the garage will show your child that you are encouraging their progress.
Getting cut from a team does NOT define you as an athlete or a person. Don’t give up just because you fear that you will be rejected again. Fear can be totally paralyzing. Keep motivated by always having your goals in sight. If you really want to stick out lacrosse, don’t let this rejection get you down. It’s okay to feel upset at first, but it’s up to you to overcome those feelings of rejection, sadness, and anger and use them to keep on pushing forward. Parents, try to be supportive without letting your emotions get the best of you. Be there for your child and let them know that all possibilities are open to them no matter what happens.