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  • Writer's pictureDan Williams

A Parents Guide To Tryouts

Seven Steps To Get Through Club Tryouts 

Thanks to the nature of club sports, you're often forced to make our most important decisions under the pressure of tryout season. Once a year, it's hardly the best state to make reliable decisions, whether because of the pressure of time, emotional duress, a lack of knowing exactly where you stand, or something else entirely. You fear that you may regret making the wrong decision, which will worsen the situation for years.

Almost every tryout season, my player and I have had to decide, "Do we stay or do we go?" and make this decision under the pressure of the fear of making a mistake. Over the years, this has allowed me to work out a process that I use to work through tryout season reliably process and make the most of the crazy season that is tryouts. Here's how:

Step One: Realize the Opportunity

Intimate relationships are necessary for a simple, reproducible structure for disciple multiplication.

A college athletic scholarship may be in your player's future. A professional contract is even possible. Although highly unlikely, it is a 2% or lower chance. You can likely impact the lives of your players and other players' families for a greater purpose. Every tryout is a process; keep the big picture in mind, and those feelings of missing out will eventually subside, and you will become anxiety-free.

Step Two: Know the Situation

The better you understand the situation and its complexities, the more likely you will have information until you're intimate. What exactly is the offer, in detail? Who is the coach? What do I know about them?

Employ various research techniques. Don't rely on anecdotal evidence, such as only the opinions of trusted friends, but look for facts — it matters; a healthy mixture of facts and the views of those who have "been there and done that" is best, in my opinion. It reduces the sway of marketing manipulation from clubs or vested interests that may influence through a bias that, at first glance, seems to be objective texts from parents or coaches.

You want to know the big picture, and you want to know the fine print, especially if you're considering changing clubs. Leave no stone unturned because the small pebbles, when put together, have just as much weight as the big rocks.

Step Three: Go with Biblical Values

Often, we take too much time to decide because we're afraid of what will happen if we make the wrong decision. Then, we are paralyzed by the information and unable to determine what to do.

Instead, learn to trust your Biblical values. For example, honesty, empathy, humility, standing up for others, respect, vulnerability, curiosity, and generosity. For the most part, your first instinct when you meet the coaches and experience the club will be correct because they reflect the values you respect.

Even if you make a mistake, going with these Biblical values still makes more sense because these values are reality-based and universal. Second, you will have realized that your judgment of others was wrong and move on with your identity intact.

Step Four: Consult an Outsider

Talk to people outside club sports — people who aren't your friends in the sports experience — who are experts or knowledgeable in the area you need to decide. This would include your pastor. While you want to start by researching, the information is static. Someone objective can give you another perspective.

But that is all it is: advice. You want to make sure it fits with your core values and beliefs. And the perspective they give may be given with a different understanding of club sports, so it may only be part of the answer you're looking for.

Step Five: Commit

The thing about committing to a club and needing to do this under pressure isn't just that it's hard to make a decision; it's that it's hard to commit. If you've followed a sound process for determining the best course of action and have attained sound advice, the best course of action should be clear by now.

That doesn't mean it's the most straightforward course of action. The best one is rarely the easiest. Be sure when you make your final decision, stick to it—even expect to have second thoughts about what you might miss out on.

Step Six: Have Perspective 

Finally, appreciate the process for what it can be. Going through tryouts might not be the most fun thing in the world, but each year, as you go through the process, it can become a game of opportunity.

You and your player will learn a lot about yourselves on the way; you'll feel more confident when you're with yourself and around others, and making more sports decisions will become much easier over time. And you will have many more sports decisions to make over the years.

Remember, opportunities are always waiting for the passionate player who loves to compete and is committed to maximizing their skills. The reality is that the club has less power over opportunity than we give it. God has a plan for your life. Stay faithful to His values.

Step Seven: If You Made The Wrong Decision

Most clubs require that you sign a legally binding contract. But deciding on a club doesn't mean you don't have options.

For example, let's say you signed on to a one-year commitment to a club. If something comes up, you don't have to grin and bear it. You can address these issues with the club leadership. Many fear that a coach will take it out on a player. But if it is already bad, it would be worse to ignore it. Ask the club to release your player. But don't use your request as a way to prove a point. If it's a bad situation and they don't address your concern, they will not change because of a "truth bomb" you drop. But they can take their time responding to your request.

Please don't be stubborn; treat others the way you want them to treat you. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your outcome of playing competitive club sport - the heart conforming to the character of God. The evidence of this conformity is in your actions.

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