Handling Rejection

Aug. 13, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Last month, a Responsible Sports Parent wrote to our panel of experts to ask: 

My 8-year old daughter tried out for her softball club's travel team. She did not make the cut. She is still very welcome to play on another team within the club. However, she has reached an age where she realizes her recent rejection means that on some level she is not as good of a softball player as she thought she was. She asks "Why was I not good enough for the team?" How do you reply without impacting her negatively?”

Melanie, a concerned parent.

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Ken Eriksen – USA Softball and University of South Florida Head Coach, had this to say:

What could be a devastating thought to a lot of parents could also be a motivating factor in the future success of your child. It probably hurts the feelings of the parents that there child is currently disappointed. Long term affects should be handled responsibly and as quickly as possible. If the game is fun, then continue to strive to “have fun” and get better each day. Most of our current players and past players in the national team program didn’t “try-out”for teams until they were at the 12 and under level. They played rec ball and played a lot to learn the game. As far as answering your daughters question? That is an easy one. Be honest without being emotionally attached. Put yourself into a position in real life where you knew that you just needed to polish up a little bit more on your skills to be more than valuable the next time a job opening comes up. Remember it’s a game that kids play and adults manage. There are good players and not so good just as there are good managers and….. Well you get it. Have fun!!!

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

Dear Melanie,

Did the coaches who made the selection for this travel club softball team give your daughter any explanation when she was informed she did not make the team? I realize your daughter is asking you for an explanation, but the people in the best position to give her this information are the coaches.

Being only eight years old, your daughter has plenty of time to improve her game, and by asking these coaches for specific feedback, she is showing that she is the kind of person/player who wants to work to improve her game (and signaling to these coaches that they’ll see her at tryouts again next year).

This sort of resilient attitude can help her in all facets of her life now and forever. The fact that she is asking you, “Why was I not good enough to make the team?” is a lot better than sulking and announcing that she is done playing softball.

Support your daughter to get the feedback from the coaches that she deserves and then, when she puts in the time and effort to improve in these areas, let her know that you see her hard work and progress. What appears to her as a major set back this season may actually cause her to reach even higher levels of play in the future, even though that can be hard to see now.

Do you have a youth softball question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us online and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on ResposibleSports.com and each month we’ll feature one question here at ASA Softball.