Player Development

How to Handle a Disappointing Tryout with Your Athlete

A disappointing tryout can be overwhelming for any athlete. Here's how you as a parent can help them bounce back.

by Griffin Lloyd

Former college athlete and video editor. Current content creator, sports enthusiast and dog dad.

For any parent and player, tryout placement can be an overwhelming outcome. From celebration to disappointment, it’s challenging to handle the emotions of player placement in youth sports. Regardless of the result, make sure to communicate openly with your athlete to let them know that there are better days ahead. After all, they are putting themselves out there, which is no easy task.

Any great athlete will tell you that no success comes without putting yourself out there, in fact, success rarely comes without failure. As Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying”. Widely known as the best basketball player to live, he overcame his fair share of adversity. Believe it or not, even Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity team. The coach felt he just wasn’t good enough at the time and expressed his lack of size as a determining factor. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s difficult to avoid wanting full control of the situation as a parent. These are learning moments for your children, and while we all want our children to succeed in life, there will always be obstacles that are worth overcoming. Here are four ways you can remain supportive as a parent.

1. Acknowledge the situation

The first step to overcoming an obstacle is understanding the situation and then finding out “why” so that your athlete can do better next time. As a parent, it’s difficult not to overthink things. Instead, work with them to see why they think tryouts went the way they did and draw their own conclusions. The great thing about sports is that there will always be a place for your athlete; you just need to find the right fit.

Like any other situation, turning a blind eye to this conversation can lead to negative thoughts and feelings in your athlete. Engage them in conversation rather than letting them internalize their thoughts. It’s healthy to be open about these results so that this setback turns one step closer to success.

2. Be Available

The best thing you can do as a parent following disappointing news is to be available when they need it. Now, this isn’t Parenting-101, but it can be easy to get caught up in the emotions of the situation. Remember that your child may not want to have a forced conversation, but it’s important that you’re ready for it if and when they choose to open up.

Remember that this decision doesn’t define you or your athlete’s success in the long term, and there are many ways to bounce back. This is youth sports. Your player has a long journey ahead of them, so don’t forget that this one tryout is not make or break. With hard work and determination, there will be plenty of opportunities ahead.

3. Empathize

Empathy is one of the most challenging feelings as a parent. You’ll always be your athlete’s number one fan, but you must be able to balance reality in the moment. There aren’t any do-overs, and what’s done is done. However, there is great power in your kid knowing that you’re on their team no matter what. Use words of affirmation such as “I believe in you” or “You’re a great player” to instill belief when confidence may be at a low.

Draw from your stories and knowledge, to show how you dealt with similar situations in your past. Don’t be afraid to tell them a story that made you resilient and ended up that way for the better. We’ve all failed in life, but as time goes by, your ability to recover and respond positively is what truly defines character.

4. Move Forward

Making suggestions in the form of actionable steps is an important way to pick your athlete up. It’s important you allow them some time to process and talk when they’re ready, but encouraging them to see the many other opportunities out there can be powerful.
The easiest first step is to locate the other teams and clubs in your area that might have open spots. Find their tryout dates and encourage them to try again (make sure your athlete is invested). Aside from that, get back to work. If you’re looking for a few other ways to take advantage of the down time, here are 5 ways to have a successful offseason.

The next best step is to review play with your child from the past season to see what they could do better. Using video for individual development is critical these days, as many teams and parents are now using an all in one system like Trace that records and edits all of your moments automatically. By reviewing past play, one can determine quickly what areas of the game need work and begin improving from there.

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