How to Support Your Children During Tryouts

A few months ago, Jackson, our 8-year-old had basketball tryouts to play for the Indy Nets Basketball club here in Indianapolis. It would be the first time he would have a tryout for a team before playing with them. Up to this point he had only played rec leagues, no club teams, no travel teams, and no AAU teams.

I could tell he felt a little different about this, and was probably a little anxious. His coach was going to be evaluating his play, his attitude, and his work ethic in comparison to players who had played more basketball experience than him, at a higher level of competition no less. Before allowing him to be on the team, he wanted to make sure he could compete and contribute to the team.

A different level of competition

The coach had watched him play in church rec leagues, but never against kids who play ball throughout the year. If he couldn't compete at that level and contribute then he wouldn't be playing on the team. He might have to stick with rec leagues.

After the workout his coach believed he could do both, and that he could be one of the main contributors on the team. Little did Jackson know that his coach was actually his dad, me. Yes, I had been asked to coach the 1st/2nd grade Indy Nets team. All those questions I had about Jackson being able to compete with kids who've played more than him were real questions I had.

No reserved spots...only deserved spots

If he wasn't able to compete, contribute, and stay on the court then I was going to decline coaching. I didn't want to be the coach whose kid is only on the team because his dad is the coach. I wanted Jackson to legitimately be worthy of playing for the team. And prior to the workout I wanted to make sure he was as best prepared to give his best when he showed up.

I did a few things to support him and get him ready. Whether you are the coach or not, as parents you want to know how to support your children during tryouts. Tryouts are a big deal, and having your support will help them to have their best opportunity to do their best when they are being evaluated.

Here are 3 things you can do to support your kids during tryouts.

1 - Practice with them

One thing I did with Jackson in the weeks and days leading up to tryouts was to practice with him. We would go to the gym and spend about an hour doing basic fundamental drills.

When we first began working out he could barely make a layup on a 10-foot rim, as he was used to playing on lowered rims. By the time the tryouts were here, he could do that and was able to make jump shots. That not only helped him improve his skills, but his confidence went up as well.

2 - Teach them drills they can do alone

In addition to playing and practicing with him, I taught Jackson some basic drills that he could later do on his own. These drills didn't require much. He just needed a basketball and some encouragement from me to do it consistently.

Soon after I taught him the drills we'd find him outside dribbling on his own, and doing defensively slides. Teach your kids what to do, then encourage them, and you'll be amazed at how they take it from there.

3 - Help them eat right

Being prepared for tryouts or competing in general is not just about the on-field and on-court skill level. Some kids gain a competitive edge with good nutrition. This is another way you can support your kids during tryouts.

Teach your kids the what and why of good sports nutrition. Show them the importance of consuming plenty of fluids, as well as the frequency and timing of their meals. This has major benefits as it will not only help them on the sports field or court, but in their mental clarity for school, and overall life.

4 - Be on time

Your kids may have a lot of nerves when trying out for a team. Help to ease that by making things around them flow smooth. One of the best ways to do this is to show up on time to their workouts.

Don't have them stand out by showing up late, or rushing to get dressed and ready for the tryout. They have a ton of things on their mind during a tryout. Make sure being in the right place at the right place isn't one of them.

5 - Book a session with a private coach

If you don't have the knowledge or skills to run your kids through drills and teach them certain fundamentals of the game, then you may consider booking a session with a private coach. As a former college athlete and youth coach for the past nine years, playing with my kids, running them through drills, and teaching them things they can work on is something I'm very comfortable with.

For parents who don't have the time, skills, or knowledge, private coaches can help in that area. In fact, although I played sports in college, still play some today, and have coached for several years, the next step for my kids will be private coaching. Sometimes our kids receive instruction better when its not coming from mom or dad.

Take action and make tryouts a great experience

No matter if your kids make the A team, the B team, or don't make the team at all; taking action on the above items can lead to a great experience and help them give their very best during tryouts. After all that's what's most important -- putting our kids in position to succeed and reach their maximum potential.

What sports will your kids be trying out for this season?

photo credit: fivehanks via photopin cc

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