30 second time outs

Friday, September 21, 2007

When You Are Cut From the Team-How to effectively deal with not making the team -- a lesson for parents and players.

This article is from a series of posts that occurred at the Coaching Hoops Yahoo! Group. Here is how one parent and son dealt with not making the team. Being cut can be a difficult experience for all (players don't want to be cut, parents don't want their son or daughter to be cut and can find it difficult when there is nothing they can do to help, and coaches really don't enjoy when having to make cuts). If there is one way to deal with it, display phenomenal character, and be a role model for others, this is it!

The initial cry for help:

Hello Everyone,

I need another perspective, besides mine, regarding my son being cut
by the coach.

We moved to a new town in Texas. My kid was not known in the area and
most of the players on the team came up from Middle School or
participated in the Coaches camps, and were known. Anyway, he made
the Freshman A team.

As the season went on, I witnessed my son's mental toughness tested
as he was put on the bench and seldom played. My kid was told not to
shoot the ball and played looking over his shoulder. When your coach
tells you not to shoot, you are letting that player know you have no
confidence in him. And that is tough for anyone to overcome,
especially at 14 years old.

After two weeks of try-outs, my kid was cut from JV Friday. The sad
thing is, he has proved and shown that he is much better than some of
the kids that made the squad: coach's friend's son, the booster
club's son, and the snack bar's mom's son.

When kids got home and told their parents last night, I had three of
them call me saying they could not belive it. They each said "If your
son was cut, there is no way my kid will make it then."

All I can say is that the coach picked players based on relationships
and not being objective. I guess, this is why they seldom win.

Well, the Varsity coach called the house and spoke to my wife because
he said he was very concerned for my kid based upon his reaction to
being cut.

My wife kept asking him "why...why? This does not make sense. I have
watched this team for a year and you cannot tell me he his not in the
top six. I see the talent level of players and he is in the top six.
You kept stats at try-outs and he was third on the list among the 12
sophomores you are looking at. I have been a sports editor for nine
years. I have covered and interviewed many players and coaches and
this just does not add up."

After all this pressing, He finally did say that my kid "was a left-
handed point guard and needed to go right (This is so false!) He also
said that "he is the best passer out there and that is his
greatest strength." He stated that "he is a super kid and that he was
having trouble sleeping because he knew this was going to be tough.
That is why out of all the sophomores, he brought him in first to get
it over with because he is such a good all-around kid, team player,
and has a great attitude, and this was going to be so tough..."

Anyway guys, the bottom line in all this is that this is wrong man,
really….really wrong

What do I do? We discussed with the coach. We strongly disagree with
him. I am sorry man...but this is just wrong...this is 100% wrong.
Any suggestions please?
Assorted Responses:mine are in bold italics

It's sad, but their are many coaches who are under pressure from parents to keep their kids over talent, simply because they are in the boosters, or an administrators son or daughter, or a friends son or daughter.

You might appeal to some of the other parents and players to step forward on your son's behalf. Others must know of his talents. Maybe a little pressure on the coach from players and other parents might have some effect. Other than that I don't know where you might go to find relief.
Not much you can do... All I can suggest is that you stress to your son that sometimes things happen that you think might not be fair. The best thing you and your son can do is just hunker down, continue to work on the game of basketball and try out again next season.

This is an ultimate teaching moment for YOU
Please understand, none of us coaches were there. It is also going to be said that I and every other coach here HATE (and I don't use that word) making cuts. It is the hardest thing to do in sports. I know coaches that will make the tryout period awful, hoping kids will drop out so they don't have to cut them. Trying to read in between your disappointment it sounds to me like the sophomores all were very close in ability. Some did some strengths and others different strengths. Personally my Gift from God is to see potential, and heart. So I may select a player who others would question. That may be what is happening here. The point is We really don't know. My suggestion, first Pray. Ask the good Lord that your actions be pleasing to Him. Then call the coach and schedule a meeting. You and or your husband and son and whomever the coach wants there. Ask to questions, 1. Is there a way your son can stay involved. Maybe as a manager or stats. Something where he can continue to learn basketball and the system. 2. What does your Son need to work on and what does He do well. He should work on His strengths 35% and weaknesses 65% . Then your son should close the meeting by agreeing to do the suggestions, shaking their hands hugging you and going to work. The final step is to stay supportive of your son, school, teachers and coaches. Let the Administrators handle Administration which includes hiring and firing coaches. Someone will mention that Michael Jordan did not make His high school team and He still did all right. Mainly keep the faith. Understand that God places closed doors in front of us , we have to have the faith to open them and then go in.
You really can't control how the coach picks his team. IMHO the best thing to do now is have your son continue to work hard & improve his skills. Pay a lot of attention to the weaknesses the coach pointed out. Get him playing in the off season in club, AAU, or in an adult league.

The worst thing for your son is to dwell on how unfair the situation was. Get over it, get it behind you, and move forward.
All I can say that this is one "Dumb A$$" coach! He had a form that he used to help pick his players...and he ignored it... your son or any kid in the top half has to make the team unless he has a terrible attitude and he already admitted that your son is a "super kid."

Time to sit down with the AD and the coach and ask him why... (in front of his boss)
he was cut when he is in the top 6 out of 12. I think that he is going to have a hard time explaining this to his AD. Maybe this is NOT a guy you want your son to play for.... because even if you get him to recant and put him on the team... he is going to look bad and he probably wont play your son anyway.

I don't know about the rest of the coaches here.. yes I do.. there aren't many in this great group that don't want to win and will use the best players that fit into their system to accomplish that goal. We will pick out the best players and just plain good kids sometimes.

Frankly I have no respect for people like this and they give the name "coach" a bad rep. I hope you can work things out for your son and you can help him through this.
He will take your lead here, so do your best to show him how to handle this. If you do meet with the AD, you might come away with a different understanding of the situation. Good luck and let us know how this goes.
There are always two sides to every issue, however if what you say is true it sounds as if this coach is making decisions based on politics. As a coach I make it clear to our players that the team always comes first. Will we be a better team with or without you? I would request a personal meeting with the coach and possibly the AD and ask him some of the following: your sons ability compared to other players, is he a positive influence on the team, how does he fit in with the rest of the players (chemistry) what is his upside, downside (potential). You may want to ask him what he thinks your son needs to improve at to make the team in the future. The bottom line however at a lot of high schools, is that politics can play too much of a role in athletics. If you feel your son has been wronged definitely fight for him regardless of the outcome, just remember that even if the coach changes his decision it could be a long season for your son again. If your son really loves the game don’t let a poor coach ruin that love, look into other options, club teams, AAU teams, different school.
Best of luck and GOD bless
You are getting some great advice here

Here's a true story

I grew up in the same city and went to the same elementary school
and HS as Pat Haden (former NFL QB and now the NBC Notre Dame color
commentator) I was a fledgeling quarterback that was built exactly
like Pat in our youth and so there were football comparisons all the
time. All summer another QB and I were battling for the starting job
and I was convinced that I was the next Pat Haden (he still holds
some National HS passing records). Then in late August a 6'2" lanky
lefthander named Paul McDonald showed up and the rest was history.
He went on to lead USC to a National Championship and played 9 yrs
in the NFL. I chose to quit football before the school year started.

A couple weeks into school we had our first basketball meeting for
prospective players and guess who the freshman coach was - the
football coach that I just left behind. Two months later, and 3 days
after FB season ended when the basketball team was posted on the
locker room door - I was not on the list and the situation was
similiar to the one you describe. 9 of the 12 players were his FB
guys and I suspected that he held that against me. I went into the
coaches office, told him I thought that he played favorites, and
suggested that I play 1 on 1 against this player that I knew I was
better than and seemed to be his favorite (another FB guy). I said
that If I beat him I get his jersey and you cut him and if he beats
me I'll sweep the floors and be your water boy for the rest of the

That 1 on 1 match never "offically" happened (although I regularly
toyed with him during PE class to prove a point !:?) However, I
guess the coach like my "moxy" and recognized a little bias towards
FB guys and added THREE guys to the team ( I think just to prove
that he wasn't giving in to just me)

That begs a few questions/comments
1) is there anything that the coach could be possibly holding
against your son - or you. If there is a hint of that, the AD and
coach may listen a bit once they suspect you are on to that.

2) never attribute to malice what can be explained thru ignorance.
It turns out that the coach had nothing against ME, like I thought,
but just liked his guys and didn't have enough time to get to know
me. 5 years later he helped get me my first middle school teaching

3) I have gone thru playing time issues with each of my 3 older kids
during different years and levels and quite honestly, each one
worked itself out over time. Sometimes it just took a little more
time than I'd like. but they are better people because of it.

And finally 4) If it doesn't work out - some of the lessons that we
learn are not very fun at the time. In a few years some player that
was cut may not get into their #1 college choice or years after that
may be passed over for a promotion that they deserved but did not
get. How you handle it today, may lay the foundation for how he
handles that later.

Best of luck, and keep us posted on how things turn out.

It is probably good that your son is not on his team. This probably means that other people are controlling who is picked and who plays in the games.
It sounds as if the coach knows that your son should be on the team,because he called you to try to explain, and he knew your son was going to be upset because he knew what he was dong was unfair. But he never admitted it.

So please try to keep your son's confidence in his basketball game up. Support him and let him know that he is a good basketball player. Let him play in a rec league or AAU or some organized form of basketball. Do not let this negative experience affect is desire to play the game. Stay positive and everything will work out.
1-Our school is pretty small overall. I know every kid who has come through the program. We just try and figure out if the kid is going to play for us. We try and make sure that every kid in our program gets into games every night. In other words, we keep the number of 9th graders who we will play every night--10. Our sophomore coach keeps the kids who he thinks have a chance to play in the varsity / JV program the next year. Some years this has been as few as 8 and as many as 12. It just depends on the class of kids in that grade. For the varsity / JV team we take a look at kids who've been in the program and see how we see them fit in. For a senior they have to be in the playing mix. If they are not, we try and give them the straight scoop. In past years I've had a kid or two that had been in our system since 4th grade. I told them they were not going to be in the playing rotation. The kid stayed with the team, but decided in early January to drop from the team. It worked out OK. I just wish that senior kids who were not going to play would just decide not to stick with it. There are so many things to do in a student's senior year--homework, college preparation, jobs, community, other school activities. It makes it hard when they decide to stay, but we give them the choice if they've been in the program for years. If they go south attitude wise, they are cut mid season. But, usually they will drop out on their own.

If we get a transfer kid into the building we evaluate the kids grades, school behavior, talent and if he can fit in with the guys we have. It is up to the transfer kid to fit in with us, not the other way around. The transfer kid who makes it at our school is the kid who says, "I'm here to help the team do its best." The kid who never makes it here is the kid who thinks, "I should be featured." If a transfer is a school behavior problem, academic problem or attitude problem we do not take him, regardless of talent level.

2-We do not open tryouts for people to watch. It adds pressure to the kids and opens doors for discussion as to squad selection. I want no part of that.
1) I have never used or kept stats. That is very objectiive and
sports is not always objective. Some kids don't fill up stat sheets
- they just win. Other kids add to the team in other ways. If you
use stats and keep someone with inferior stats, as Ricky Ricardo
used to say,

"You've got some 'splaining to do!"

2) Everything we do is open and people need to know that during the selection process I support the cornerstone of American democracy:
one man - one vote.

"I'm the MAN - and I VOTE !

We run evaluation sheets as well as an evaluation of how well a player can grasp what we are teaching offensively and defensively. New kids, transfers especially, are almost always given more time during tryouts so that they have the opportunity to learn a new system, new players and new coaches and it gives us an opportunity to learn more about them. Our final cut down usually happens during the last scrimmage. The players on the bubble are given more time in the scrimmages.

No. Without opening this debate again, tryouts are not open to the general public just like the SATs, Final exams and other tests are not open to the public. The kids are under enough pressure to make the team that they don't need their parents, friends or onlookers watching. It is what the coaching staff and I agreed upon early on and in asking the kids they preferred that tryouts and practices remain closed. We open two practices a year to the parents and one for the general population.
I kept a kid as a freshman that was limited in basketball skills and strength but he tried hard. He was the last cut so I asked him if he wanted to be a manager for a year and work out with the team. He did all the drills, lifted weights, and did all the running. On game day he did the books. No complaints, just worked hard. By the time he was a senior he had grown to 6'8" and turned into quite a player just by working hard. I didn't see the height coming but just liked the way he worked and learned.
I've heard this argument from several people.. but if there is a kid that good..... I would keep an extra player if they weren't a problem type kid.. meaning they would work hard and take the playing time they might get.
You never know about injuries, grade problems, illnesses etc......... I guess I have never been in the position where I could afford to cut a kid described here. If the kid was a player I kept him. JMO
One thing I've learned from being a teacher, coach and most
importantly a dad, is that parents are very protective and emotional
regarding their own kids. I can't tell you the number of times I've
been told that I "kept the wrong kids." One day after selecting our
teams I had 6 phone calls to my home number (that was not listed in
the phone book) before I got home from practice that night. 9 out
of 10 times I believe coaches evaluate talent properly. After all,
who stands to be hurt most if we don't select the best kids?

That said, there are some isolated examples of favoritism and often
the "new" kids are effected. My advice would be to avoid any
conversation with the administration at first. Use that only as a
last resort. Bringing in outside, "power people" will cause most
coaches to become very, very defensive and is a quick way to ensure
your boy will never get a chance in that program. First, I would
have your SON take it up directly with the coach. This is what I
always encourage my players to do with a teacher, coach, adult
figure that they have an issue with. It teaches them some life
skills. Have him ask what he needs to do to be a part of the
program. Is there any way he would consider putting him on a team
this year if he followed the suggestions?

If at that point the coach doesn't give him an idea of what he needs
to do or how he might fit in down the road, the coach really doesn't
see your boy in the picture and you may want to look at playing
elsewhere. This is harsh advice I know, but going "over his head"
rarely helps.

99% of coaches will respect a 1on1 with a player who wants to be a
part of the program. I've had similar converstions and have brought
kids back onto teams the next year. On rare occasion a coach is
horribly insecure and in these cases, it might be better to not play
for him in the first place. Sorry this might seem harsh, but I've
seen these situations play out in every possible way.

I hope it works out for you and your son.

PS. And to the question about opening your tryout process to
parents... I would strongly caution against it. These days you'll
have parents with laptop computers doing shot charts and later
telling you their kid made 42% in the shooting drill and you cut him
but kept a kid who shot 22%.
I vented on this one a few times before.... I guess you should look at it this way...
When one door closes another (and better one) opens for you.
Good luck and God Bless.

Finally, the father responded:
Update on kid being "cut" (as the coach likes to call it)

First, let me say thanks to the many comments shared on this subject. Very helpful. I read every one of them, took notes, and came up with a strategy.

... We took the input and decided the best thing to do is that he should speak with the coach on Monday. He approached the coach, he told him that he respects and honors his decision; He said he still wants to be part of the squad and asked if he can help with the books, manage the team anything at all. The whole time the coach was shaking his head no. After the kid was done, the coach said that "everyone cut wants to be a manager, I'll see." And that my friends, was that.

After a difficult day on Monday because of being "demoted", so to speak, he had to have his scheduled changed, two classes switched to new teachers and classmates, and a differnet lunch away from all his basketball friends, who all shared the same lunch time.

However, the kid is having a great attitude. He said that:

- this is a "trial" for him and that he has been putting basketball ahead of God and needs to re-focus.
- He printed a bunch of quotes about going through hard times then overcoming them, and hung them all over his room.
- Two varsity players came up to him and said this was not cool and offered to meet him in the weight room after school to help him out.
- He started a daily schedule so he can follow a routine to attend his activities etc and when he would have time, work out etc.
- He also asked me to get him in an adult league or something so he could keep playing until his Club team starts in March.
- He has had good support from his friends, both on and off the court.

So, all in all, yes, it hurts to see your child be treated unfairly, no lie. I have been very objective here. I mean, how many of us in the workforce have seen unfairness, someone getting promoted over another and then asked ourselves Why? How many of us have had a poor manager or leader over us, and during that time, we were not as productive as we could of been? Because of poor management, we were distracted, felt a sense of being micro-manged, criticized for doing a job we thought was good...you know what I mean? We all have had hard times at the job. This is life.

The kid will get through this. He will move forward, get better. I truly believe some of the kids will regress under this JV coaching just as my kid, and others did last year. One parent on Saturday cracked me up. He said "I am glad my kid made the team, but at the same time, I am worried he will get worse." True statement man...he could not of said it better. And in a strange way, actually helped me out.

Well, thanks again and appreciate your input. In closing, I will leave you with what I told the kid, "yeah...we have been knocked down son....., but we are not knocked out."

Coach D.

Join the Coaching Hoops Yahoo! Group to get in on discussions such as this, X's and O's, philosophies, techniques .. pretty much everything under the hoop!

Lok's Ledger