One of the hardest decisions you have to make as a coach is dealing with cutting players, no one likes to do it. The trouble with cutting a kid is that there is a chance they won’t want to play the game anymore. This is especially a difficult time if the child is going through stages of puberty. Several questions will race through their minds, what will my friends think, will I get made fun of, will they still be my friends even though I won’t be playing with them anymore? I personally went through the difficult transition of being cut from a team and I experienced all those questions. You go through different stages of anger, feeling sorry for yourself (depression) and finally you accept it. In the end, it’s really a test of your character and how you react. For myself, I took it as a challenge.
There are several things you can do as a coach to make it easier for yourself and for the player/parents. If you are in a position where you have too many players and are forced to have cuts; make sure you tell both the players and parents before you hold your tryout the situation and the decisions that must be made. Let them know how many days the tryouts are going to be so they can come prepared. Also, educate both the players and parents of what their options will be should they be cut. Talk with other coaches in the area and let them know that you might have some players available, maybe even invite those coaches to your tryout. Once the tryout is complete, make your decisions promptly and be sure to tell those individuals as soon as possible. For one, the anxiety that comes with waiting could affect them in other areas of life, such as school. Two, this gives them more time to find another team if they choose to continue to play.
Dealing with the parents will probably be the most difficult challenge. A good parent will fight tooth and nail for their child, they will do whatever it takes to see their child succeed. This is where you will have to stand your ground and avoid “side-taking.” Some parents might ask for you to give individual training sessions. Do not offer these types of benefits, it will only come back to hurt you. When your decision is made parents will use all kinds of excuses to protect their child. Avoid anything that will make it look like you are playing favorites.
Hopefully you won’t ever be put in a position where these type of decisions have to be made. There are ways you can avoid this kind of pressure. You can implement a “no cut” policy within your club or team. You can have different avenues where players can play up an age group to make room for the players that would be cut. If you are blessed to have a ton of players you could have an A and a B team. If neither of those options are available you can have a practice squad. Let the players and parents know that you will not be making any cuts but there will be certain players that will be in the practice squad. Which means, they are allowed to practice with the team but they will not be available to participate in the games. This will give time for those players to develop and work on their weaknesses without having to deal with the stress of being cut.
As mentioned before every child and parent will react differently. If you are the parent of a child that has been cut avoid causing a scene, it will only damage your kid even more. Give them time to gather their emotions but let them know that you are available for them if they want to discuss their options. Make sure that they aren’t making their decision off pure emotion. If they are passionate about the game encourage them to try another team. In the end remember that it is your child’s decision to decide his/her future.