Tryouts for any team, sport, or program can often cause a great deal of anxiety for youth athletes to highly competitive teenagers to the parents!  Here are some tips to absorb some anxiety at all levels and to hopefully make the tryout process a more successful one for both players and parents.

1. Do Your Homework:  Know the Process as Parents and Players:

Being informed of the process will make things easier.  Knowing when the tryout takes place and how the tryout will operate will allow the athlete to reduce initial fear of the unknown.  Make sure that you contact the staff running the tryout to get all information, along with asking other parents and athletes who have gone through the same process.  It is similar to a big test at school or a driving test for a driver’s license.  If you know the culture of the event, the when, where, and what to study prior to the test or tryout, the participant will be much more at ease.  Any information about the process will absorb anxiety of both parents and players.  In addition, if you are trying out at the high school level you may be required to have a current Physical Exam and Insurance Card so contacting the Head Coach or Athletic Director prior is usually a good idea.

2.  Tryout for the Tryout: Have a Practice Tryout at the Same Time and Place (if possible)

Another part of easing tension for a tryout is preparation!  If you are truly prepared, you will be much more confident and feel less stress as a participant.  As a parent, it is always your job to try to absorb anxiety by teaching your son or daughter how to prepare for these situations.  If at all possible, practice the tryout before by recreating the environment for them like any great coach would do.  All great coaches try to make the practice harder than the game so that athletes or performers have felt and experienced the conditions, prior to the game.  It may be impossible to recreate the environment completely, but just try to get as close as possible.  There is nothing more empowering that preparation!  For example, taking a driving test for your driver’s license is a great example.  I call it the DMV Principle: Take your son or daughter to the DMV in the same car they will be testing in and drive the course(s).  Ask others about the various pre-driving questions, procedures, and process, then go practice in the same environment.  Repeat the process thus reducing the stress.  Practice early and often!  The amount of hours you spend doing this prior to the big day will make the participant feel much more confident.

3.  Be Early:  Absorb Anxiety and Feel Ready

One of the easiest and most helpful ideas is to be early to the tryout.  This will simply make the participant feel less stress than arriving late.  This will also provide warm up time, stretch, and breathe prior to the tryout and will allow the participant the opportunity to see others participate prior.  This is a great way to simply “get the nerves” in check

4. Parents Tip:  It’s Teachable Moment Opportunity!

Be there to teach your son or daughter how to work through these sometimes stressful situations or performances.  As an adult you have experience with interviews, productions, meetings, speeches, and settings that are similar to a tryout.  Absorbing your son/daughter’s anxiety through teaching them how to handle the situation may even be more important that the tryout process itself!  Encourage them to find out all information if they are young adults or older as taking responsibility is always a key.  The bottom line is to make the tryout a Teachable Moment and a positive experience.  You always learn more from being uncomfortable, that is when growth occurs.  If you are comfortable, you are not growing.

5.  What if I don’t make the Team? Never Give Up!

If you are a participant in youth sports tryouts are a part of the process and the tougher lessons won’t apply until later when involved in more competitive sports.  If you are involved in competitive situation and unfortunately don’t make the team what should you do?  As a player you will want to have the coaches inform you of the areas/skills that you have fallen short.  Try to have an open conversation with coaches or evaluators to identify the particular areas so that you can develop a plan to work on them for a tryout in the future.  Finally, never give up, continue to work and not lose hope.  Players grow at various levels/ages and any time you experience a LOSS, (Author Jon Gordon says LOSS means Learning Opportunity Stay Strong) make sure you respond by turning the negative into a positive motivation for the next tryout.