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Managing the Emotion of Tryouts

Tryout Season can be an emotional time for parents and kids. Unmet expectations, disappointment, excitement, and a range of other emotions are present. From the anxiety of showing up to the fear of being let down, our preparation as parents for the tryout is crucial.

At A Better Way Athletics, we believe it’s very important as parents to determine “our” response before we receive the result. We all know we are going to hear one of the 3 things:

  • You made the top team!
  • You made a team you didn’t hope to make.
  • You didn’t make the team.

Each of these outcomes creates emotion for us as parents. Let’s start with the easy one.

Outcome #1: Our child makes the team we hoped they would make.

Although this seems like an easy response, we still need to think through how we manage these emotions. For many of us, our kids have been blessed to make a lot of great teams so as parents we need to make sure we are cultivating the right attitudes. Below are a few things to consider when your child makes that top team:

  • Celebrate their success
  • Remind them to be humble
  • Have them check on a friend who wasn’t so fortunate
  • Remind them you are proud of who they are not simply proud of the team they made

It’s easy to forget our role as parents in these moments because of our excitement. Cultivating the right characteristics is crucial in the development of our children so determine how you are going to lead when you get the result you desire. 

Outcome #2: Our child doesn’t make the team they wanted.

This scenario is often the most difficult because we have to decide if we will let the disappointment drive us to another opportunity or embrace the challenge ahead. We are not suggesting it’s never the right choice to pursue other options but it doesn’t need to always be our first resort. By thinking through these things ahead of time we can make a decision based on logic rather than emotion. If we seek other options simply because we are upset, we are sending the wrong message to our child.  Talk with your child about this and make sure you are ready to respond in an appropriate way. The ability to endure the early struggles of life creates a resiliency they will thank you for later in life. Here are a few things to remind your child and some questions to ask when they are placed on a team you didn’t anticipate:

  • Remind them of the ultimate goal. No matter the team you can still get better!
  • What are some advantages to being on this team? 
  • I am proud of you no matter what team you make. 
  • Listen don’t lecture. Let them talk through the situation. They may not be as upset as you are in that moment. 

Outcome #3: Our child doesn’t make a team at all.

I have to be honest and say this hurts me to even write. I believe every child should have an opportunity to participate but I also realize there are factors outside of our control. Parents, we must be ready for these moments. The seeds you plant in these difficult times will produce the characteristics that give your child a chance to bounce back later and that later will be way more significant than a game or team. If we are prepared for these moments, it allows us to empathize with our children without making excuses and remind them that there are other opportunities they will get.

Here are a few great reminders as you deal with the disappointment:

  • Remind them you are proud of their courage to try! We never want a temporary struggle to prevent us from trying later. 
  • Be honest. Being a great athlete is not in everyone’s cards. To be honest, it’s not in most of our cards. 
  • Listen don’t lecture. I need to remind myself of this. We want to fix things and sometimes they just need our support. 
  • Don’t make excuses. Even if you feel they are valid, expressing those to your child leads to an attitude of blame rather than accountability. 

Parents, remember. Less than 2% of High School kids will play after they are 18 years old. These moments we walk through are preparing them for a season of life that is far longer and far more important than any game or team.

As you head into tryout season, make sure you are ready so that you can parent well in these moments. 

A Better Way