Getting cut from a sports team can have devastating, long-term effects on kids. This is especially true for kids who have benefited from previous success in sports, and for parents who have invested enormous amounts of time, money, and energy to helping their child succeed in sports. While it is true that as kids age and teams become more competitive more kids will be deselected (cut), it’s still never a fun experience when a kid is delivered the news that he or she isn’t good enough to be on the team.
The pyramid of deselection in youth sports
When kids start off in sports everybody makes the team, and everybody plays. In fact, in many youth leagues across America today they don’t keep score, creating an environment based around fun and participation, not competition and superiority selection. As kids age, however, cuts in sports do occur, and many kids learn that their sports playing career has ended in just a moment’s notice. As you might imagine, few kids prepare for this kind of sport retirement, and therefore are left off-guard with what to do, and how to feel.
Being cut from a team can be sad, frustrating, irritating, confusing, and in some cases downright unfair. Often sport cuts are made by coaches using subjective appraisal systems, and in rare instances blatant “politics” based on relationships, not a kid’s athletic talents and potential. No matter how the selection process goes, it is important for parents to understand that fewer and fewer kids each year will make the team, and that it is wise to always be prepared for the day that your child learns that his or her sports career has ended. For a point of reference, keep in mind that 95% of high school athletes will see their sports careers end upon graduation — and for the lucky few who do play college sports, only 2% of those young men and women will be lucky enough to play at the professional level.
Your kid gets cut – here’s what to do
In some cases kids don’t mind being cut, as they had either figured they were on borrowed time or simply lost interest in the sport and would have voluntarily walked away anyway. For the rest of the kids who get cut you can safely assume they are likely embarrassed by what has happened, and probably looking for answers why they were picked over in favor of other kids.
- Talk about the realities with your child. Talking about the realities of playing sports at the highest level is a responsible thing to do, and should not be avoided for fear that the message is too pessimistic.
- Learn if he/she can improve enough for the next tryout. If possible, respectfully ask the coach where you fell short, and what specific areas need to be improved upon for the next tryout season.
- Parlay talents & abilities toward other life experiences. Take note of all the athletic transferable skills learned through sports, and look for creative ways to use them in all areas of life including school, career, and social experiences.
- Consider a new sport. If the current sport isn’t working out, what other sports are there to try? You might be surprised to learn how your skill set matches up with sports previously not considered.
Getting cut from a team is never fun, but learning how to strengthen resiliency and become a better person through the experience will ultimately allow kids to reach their full human potential. Offer support, learn from the experience, and use athletic transferable skills beyond the playing field whenever possible — in time, the memories of getting cut will fade, but the skills learned through sports can lead to a future of unlimited success.