Handling the Pressure of Tryouts


Unlike league sports, where everyone who registers gets to play, teams/travel leagues that require tryouts are usually much more competitive and bring out the best of the best. One tryout could easily have 3 or 4 times the number of athletes than there are actual spots on the team, so even good athletes might get lost in the shuffle. There is certainly a lot of pressure, especially if this is the first time your athlete is trying out, so here are three ways parents and players can manage the pressure of tryouts:

Parents don’t need to add to the pressure.


Dr. Alan Goldberg, founder of Competitive Advantage, and one of the world’s top sports psychologists, argues that kids are hard-wired to make their parents proud. It’s important that sports parents over-emphasize that you are proud of and love your athlete even if they don’t make the team. Dr. Goldberg says, “Kids don’t have a [whole] perspective, they are too young. What happens is they end up at tryouts with a lot more at stake than just making the team. What’s now at stake is ‘am I lovable?’ Some parents get angry and frustrated by how their kids play as a result of all the money and time they have invested, but this is really damaging to their child’s self worth. What their child then experiences is that ‘hockey is more important than who I am as family.’”

Focus on the effort, not on the outcome.

Your child could actually be a pretty good baseball player, maybe on the best on their league team,  but if they show up at a travel team’s tryout with 35 other “pretty good” baseball players they aren’t going to stand head and shoulders above the field. Athletes can’t control how good the other players are, what the coaches are looking for, how many spots are available and so forth. Don’t worry about the outcome of the tryouts because it takes away from what you are doing right now. Youth athletes should remember to give it their all for the entire tryout and just keep moving forward. Showing a coach how well you bounce back from a mistake is equally as important as showing your skills on the field. Some coaches will even pass over an incredibly talented athlete because their attitude stinks, so remember to keep a positive attitude no matter what.


Be opening to learning.

Good coaches want players that are coachable. If you typically play first base, for instance, but during tryoutsthey stick you at third just do the best you possibly can! They might see a different spot for you on the team but are testing how adaptable and coachable you are. Youth athletes should take whatever critique or instruction they are given and just roll with it! If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Most good coaches want athletes that are willing to learn, pay attention, and push themselves to become better players.