Sports parenting is no walk in the park (pun intended). You invest so much time, energy, and effort into your kid's sports. You do everything humanly possible to make sure they have what they need to be successful in their chosen sport. So when they don't make the team, it can be devastating for both kids and parents alike. You know how hard your kids worked, and how badly they wanted it. It's a tough blow on all.
This can be a sensitive time in a kid's life, and whether it's a team they didn't make or a part they didn't get in the school play, not getting chosen is bound to occur at one point or another in your child's life. As sports parents it's important that we are equipped with the know-how of what to do when the inevitable happens, your kid doesn't make the team.
By keeping a few points in mind, you and your kids can get through this rough patch gracefully, and maybe even with a different outlook!
Give Them Time
As soon as your child gets the news, allow them to react. Give them the space and freedom to cry, pout, or whatever they need to do as they process the information. They tried out for the team expecting to be accepted, hearing the opposite will take some time to sink in. Let it. Allow them the opportunity to vent their frustrations, and give them your full attention. Make eye contact, and offer genuine sympathy. Their young wounded hearts need to know you feel it too.
After the initial sting has worn off, sit down for a conversation with your child. Remind them of their value as a son or daughter, sibling, friend, and person. Talk up their other accomplishments, and drive this message home; they are more than just this sport. Their worth is far more than a position on any team.
Emphasize that this isn't the end of the road for them and their sport of choice. He or she can still work hard towards their athletic aspirations.
Did you know that there are many professional athletes that didn't make the team in their youth?
It's true! Here is a list of pros whose athletic abilities went all but unnoticed in high school:
Pro hockey player Dan Girardi went undrafted and had to play his way up through an affiliate of the New York Rangers before he received a shot in the NHL.
Pro baseball player Brett Gardner finished his high school career unrecruited. He tried out for his college team and didn't make it. Brett didn't give up on his dreams though, he lobbied for an opportunity to practice with the squad, and eventually got his shot.
Pro basketball legend Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team and did not make it. Instead he played JV and worked hard on his dunk, and eventually made it. The rest as they say, is history!
It just goes to show, the decisions coaches make for you as a kid, don't have to sideline your goals.
Focus On the Positive
While this isn't as obvious for a kid as it is for an adult with more life experience under their belt, it's imperative that the bright side isn't ignored, and yes, there is a bright side! This setback can actually serve as an eye-opener. Is there a skill that may need some polishing? Find out what that is and focus on improving. Now your child has the time to work on technique that will help him or her develop in the sport and get ready for next season. Besides, there are many reasons outside of ability in a sport, that may have been the deciding factor. In many instances, coaches are looking to fill a specific spot. For example, if your son is a 2nd baseman, but this coach needs an outfielder, then your child just doesn't have the particular skill needed in the moment. That's okay. There is another team out there that will have a need for your kid's distinct proficiency, and when the time is right, it'll work out.
Celebrate With Their Friends
Naturally, your child will want to know who actually made the team. It's normal to be curious! Inspire them to be happy for their friends. Jealousy and envy can come easily to anyone, but this is a great opportunity to encourage your kids to share in their friends' joy and sincerely be happy for them. Again, focusing on the things they do excel in, and that everyone has diverse strengths. This lesson will not only serve them in this situation, but in adulthood too!
More than anything else you can say, make sure your kiddo knows that you love them and will support them, no matter what. Sometimes, that is all a young athlete needs to heal the pain of defeat.
Barbara is the mom behind the blog. Modern Sports Mom. She began writing a craft and lifestyle blog in 2012. As life evolved, and her boys became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.