5 Ways to Help Your Child Prepare for a Sports Tryout

Every child makes the team when they’re really young. But as they grow up, things get more competitive, especially when they reach high school. Tryouts often become part of the sports landscape, and if your child wants to keep playing, it’s important he or she is prepared!

For many young athletes, tryouts can trigger anxiety or self-doubt. They can be exciting, disappointing, joyful, confusing or all of the above.

Obviously, talent plays a big role. But there are many other things that are part of the equation. So as a parent, how can you help your child prepare? My three boys have all competed in tryouts for a number of sports, and I’ve ran many myself as a coach. The following are, in my experience, the best ways to ensure your child is prepared for a tryout:

  1. Be Ready to Go on Tryout Day

Make sure your child comes rested, is prepared with the proper equipment, is well-hydrated and has  . Get the equipment and clothes ready the day before. Make sure everything reaches the car. Be on time. Better yet, be early.

It’s all simple stuff, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen children forget things or not get the proper food ahead of time.

They begin their tryout already behind. And unfortunately even one bad day can hurt your child’s chances at success.

  1. Establish Routines/Pass the Initial ”Eye” Test

From the time a young athlete walks in to the gym, or makes their way from the parking lot to the field, the coaches are watching them. They notice their size, their body language, how they interact with their parents or peers. Everything helps form an opinion – even before the tryout begins.

I always encourage my kids to “go about their business” by establishing routines. They know what to wear, what to bring, how to warm up properly and how to engage others. Notice this has nothing to do with talent or ability. They’re just good habits.

And this way, it doesn’t look they they’re just trying to impress; rather, they’re just going about their business in the usual manner. Coaches notice.

  1. Make Sure Your Kids Are Coachable

Is your child willing to listen? Do they make eye contact with the coach while he or she is speaking? Are they willing to make adjustments, or do they only want to do things their way? It’s all about “coachability.”

And it matters to coaches. They want kids who will listen.

Again, this has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with your child’s personality and behavior. Talent will definitely help get a child noticed at a tryout, but so will coachability (someone willing to take advice and make adjustments). It doesn’t matter if the youngster executes perfectly. Coaches appreciate an honest effort.

  1. Hustle

Tryouts generally last an hour or two. If your child doesn’t put out full effort, it can be a red flag. If the child isn’t willing to give his or her best when they know they are competing for a spot on the team, then what are they going to do in practices during the season?

  1. Don’t Be One of “Those” Parents

It’s great to be supportive, but don’t overdo it. Help your child before the tryout, not during it.

If your child is in junior high or older, chances are you won’t be allowed to even watch the tryout. But for many, if you have a younger one trying out, you’ll probably be there.

It’s important not to interfere by coaching or making comments to your child during the tryout – no matter how much you think you are helping. Let them be. Let them make mistakes and let them learn from them. Not to mention, coaches definitely won’t look forward to having to deal with loud assertive parents all year, so just be an observer out there and be there for your child when it’s over, no matter what happens.

A Few Final Thoughts about Tryouts

Tryout results can cause a lot of tension. Why did one kid get chosen over another? Know that every team is looking for something different. Sometimes coaches look for “ready-made” players. By that I mean players who are ready to contribute right now. These are typically kids with above-average skills who may not have the overall athleticism yet.

Some coaches may prefer certain kids for their “high-ceiling.” That means there is something impressive about them physically (such as speed or power), but they may not be as effective in games because their skills are currently behind their peers. This could be the very tall, awkward and young basketball player. It could be the speedy baseball player who can’t hit for average yet.

Just encourage your child to keep a positive attitude no matter what happens. Always have a backup plan and learn from each experience.

If your child doesn’t make the team, help them look for other opportunities. Maybe it’s the same sport but a different team. Or, maybe it’s a new sport altogether. And that’s totally OK! Sometimes tryouts are a great way for children to discover what they actually want to do instead.

Still, kids are human and may take rejection hard. Just remember to tell them it doesn’t mean their story is over. Even Michael Jordan himself was cut from his high school basketball team!

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