How to Support Your Children During Tryouts

Our 8-year-old son had basketball tryouts a few months ago. It was the first time he had to tryout for a team before playing with them. He had previously played in rec leagues; no club teams, no travel teams, and he had no AAU experience. 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 than him. A bunch of competitors who had played at a higher level no less.

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 and contribute at that level, then he wouldn’t be able to play on this new team. He would have to stick with rec leagues for a while longer. After his tryout, the coach believed he could have an important role on the team. Little did Jackson know, his coach was actually his dad, me. 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 thoughts in my head. I wanted to look out for my son and make sure he could hang.

No reserved spots…only deserved spots

If my son wasn’t able to compete, contribute, and stay on the court, then I was going to decline the job. 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. Prior to the tryout, I wanted to make sure he was prepared to give his best when he showed up. I did a few things to support him getting ready for it. 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 give them the confidence to give it their best effort. Here are 5 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 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. His rec league played on lowered rims. By the time the tryouts were here, he could routinely hit layups and was able to make short-range jump shots. Our practice not only helped him improve his skills, but his confidence grew 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 my wife and I regularly found him outside dribbling and doing defensive slides on his own. Teach your kids what to do, encourage them, and you’ll be amazed at where they take it from there!

3 – Help them eat right

Being prepared for tryouts or competing in general is not just about the athlete’s 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 hydration, as well as the frequency and timing of their meals. This has major benefits as it will not only help them on the court, but in their mental clarity for school.

4 – Be on time

Your kids may experience nerves when trying out for a team. Help to ease that by making things around them flow smoothly. 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 fact, even having played sports in college and coaching 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 steps can lead to a great experience. They will help your athlete give their all during tryouts, and that’s what’s most important—putting our kids in position to succeed and reach their maximum potential.


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