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Preparing your child for not making a team

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How to choose a  sport Why participate in sports When to start sports

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Sports for the child that does not like teams Sports and keeping Healthy
How to locate sports programs Selecting Cleats Preparing your child for not making a team
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Offside rule for soccer MOMS Spalding's Rookie Gear - Innovative Equipment for 8 and under Ideas for Coach Presents
What parents need to understand about kids and sporting events Creative Ideas for Building Team Camaraderie

It is much more difficult for our children today to get a position on the junior high, high school and select travel teams then it was when we were kids. Children begin playing sports in pre-school so the competition is fierce. To put it simply there are so many more kids playing sports that your child may be technically good at his sport, but he still might not make the team. So not only do you as parents have to help your children cope with the competitive stress of being on a team, but you have to help them to deal with the stress of making the team. If your child is trying out for a team, you need to prepare him for the possibility that he won't make it.

Here are some guidelines to follow reprinted from 101 Ways To Be A Terrific Sport Parent by Joel Fish, Ph.D. Simon & Schuster 2003


  • Discourage. For example, you don't want to say, Well, you're probably not going to make it because there are so many other kids who are better. Don't be negative, be realistic.

  • Go overboard with encouragement. You also don't want to go too far the other way and say, We're winners in our family! We go for it and get it! or Winners never quit and quitters never win . . . This is not preparing a child for the possibility of not making it. This kind of overboard cheerleading puts more pressure on kids. They think, Oh no, if I don't make it, Dad will think I'm a quitter.

  • Make your child into a victim. In an attempt to make kids feel better some parents say things like, You've been robbed! That coach had something against you. Or They were out to get you. This only heaps another dimension of emotion and stress upon your child.

  • Deny her feelings of loss. If you say, Who wants to be on the stupid field hockey team anyway, You're only diminishing what was important to her. You're denying her feelings and that only makes things worse. Instead, acknowledge her loss by saying, I know you're very disappointed. It's really hard to get cut like that


  • Give a positive reality check. You want to prepare kids for the possibility of not making the team without discouraging them from trying. Focus on effort and not outcome. You can say something like: I can see how hard you're working to improve your game. I know you really want a place on the team. But there are over thirty-five freshmen who are trying out for field hockey this year. Only six of you will make it. I'm not trying to discourage you. I just want you to know that the competition is very stiff. It can happen that we work really hard and still don't get something. It makes us feel bad for a while, but the important thing is to try. If we don't try our best we never know.

  • Give her positive options. Your child will feel less pressure about trying out for the team if she knows it's not the end of the world if she doesn't make it. Let her know: I want you to remember that if for some reason, you don't make it this year, you can still try out next year. I'll work with you every Saturday. There's also a girls hockey team forming at the new sports arena over in the shopping center. We can check that out. If she doesn't make the team, remind her that she does have options to play other sports.