“Mom, I didn’t make the team.” Ugh. Words NO parents want to hear. Read on for my tips on how to make a school sports team and avoid this conversation!
Tryouts: the best of times, and the worst of times for players and coaches. The start of the season holds such hope and promise. For those who don’t make the cut, it is a time of heartbreak and a crossroads. As a former high school coach, I want to provide some insight into how to help you (or your child) make their next high school team.
Here are my top 5 tips for making the cut:
1. Attend summer/pre-season workouts.
Summer workouts are an opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to a team. It’s a chance to show that you care more about the team than relaxing in the summer and getting to sleep in for an extra hour or two.
Commitment is critical to a team’s success. Let me say that again, for the people in the back: COMMITMENT IS CRITICAL to a team’s success.
If a coach knows that she can count on you, she is more likely to keep you on the team. Also, this is a chance to show your skills, and get feedback on what you need to improve.
2. Attend camps & clinics.
If your school holds any camps or clinics, make sure to attend. Attending team camp is an easy way to demonstrate your skills, AND improve, AND demonstrate commitment to your team.
If a local college or university offers a camp, make plans to attend. You never know where you are going to pick up a new strategy or technique that will elevate your game. Not to mention you can start networking with coaches and get access to helpful information about upcoming events.
3. Get prepared. Get your physical.
Always make sure you arrive prepared for each day of tryouts. Do not wait until the last minute to get your physical – this drove me nuts as a coach and is a HORRIBLE excuse for requesting a late tryout!
Many high schools schedule on-site physicals for their attendance areas. If that doesn’t work out for you, make sure you cough up the extra $20 and get a doctor’s appointment.
Additionally, make sure you clear your calendar for tryouts AND the season. Make sure you make your team a priority or you will risk losing your spot and worse: the trust of your teammates. If you work, this will be one of the first hard lessons of choosing between competing priorities. Choose wisely!
4. Manage your expectations (you too, Mom, you too, Dad!)
Before tryouts, you should have an opportunity to REALISTICALLY assess your ability to make the team. Ultimately, your skills and talent SHOULD determine your ability to contribute to the team. This is also a major determinant in your playing time.
If your skills are lacking, practice, get better, and brush up on the art of being a good teammate: genuinely cheer for your teammates, inspire them with how hard you work and your consistency. If you are humble and have an unmatched work ethic, you will surprise yourself and others with how valuable you are to the team.
5. Don’t be a diva.
I can’t believe I even have to write this paragraph. But I am shocked by how many kids want to play a TEAM sport – yet want to make it all about themselves.
Some players have the opposite problem of those with a “lack of talent”. She is ultra-talented and believes that team rules and expectations do not apply to her.
High talent + low commitment players = high drama, and any coach with any sense and some admin support would cut ties with this player at the first opportunity. This player is the source of low-trust cancer on any teams, and you do not want to be that girl.
I hope that you find these tips helpful, and that one of them helps you find a spot on your next high school team. Is there one tip here that stands out to you the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,