It’s never easy to be cut from a team. And cutting players from a team is just as difficult of a feeling.
Tryouts can be a stressful time for parents and players and there are many factors that go into a coach’s decision on finalizing the roster. A lot can change from the start of a season to the end of it and it’s important for coaches and players alike to enter tryouts with a clean slate and a fresh perspective.
There are a number of things coaches should remember when having to cut players from a team to improve the experience for everyone involved.
There are a number of ways to inform players if they were successful in making the team. The coach can send individual letters or post a list. If they elect to name a team in-person, it is best to let each player know one-on-one in a private setting if they made the roster. This way, players do not need to see the reactions of others or risk being embarrassed or disappointed in front of their friends.
Let players know upfront when the deadlines will be for roster selection. It’s unfair to players to have them hanging in the balance on a decision that is out of their hands. Players and parents will want to plan their next steps if they don’t make the team and the longer they have to wait the more it will inconvenience them.
Explain to the players what you liked about them during the tryouts process. Every player offers a unique skillset to a team and it’s about finding the best match and combination of skills as a group. Encourage them to try out again next season and give them areas of their game you think they can work to improve on.
Be prepared to answer any questions a player or parent may have about why they didn’t make the team. Let players know before tryouts begin about what you are looking for. Provide an evaluation sheet and explain how the tryout performance wasn’t a perfect fit for the team. Avoid comparing players to each other and focus on the individual’s skills.
Remember, tryouts exist to place players at appropriate levels with their peers to ensure the best possible experience on the ice, not to discourage them from playing the sport. Coaches should be ready to provide options to players of what their best fit could be (AAA, AA, A, house league, etc.).
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