Here’s something I thought was worth tossing out to my fellow coaches related to try-out decisions. I want to see what kind of advice they would offer up in this situation. A while back I got the following message from my brother:

So, what do you do when your daughter, who is younger than everyone else at tryouts is the last cut as a freshman? What can she do? Where can she play to get better? She’s upset and feels like its pointless to tryout next year.

So what would you tell the parent of a young player who just missed out on making your school team?

Addendum: John Kessel has a post on this subject on the USA Volleyball website. Think of it as a letter to a cut player. It includes the following:

“The fact is, ending that dream is your choice really, and not in the control of the coach who just cut you. If you like playing, then simply come up with other ways to play until the next round of school or club programming.”

So what do you say to the last player you cut? For that matter, what about the others? Do you have a specific way you handle that situation? When I interviewed Volleyball Coaching Wizard Tom Turco (winner of nearly 20 state high school championships), he said he had conversations with every kid. He felt he owed them all at least that much. Others have said something similar.

What about you?

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    5 replies to "What do you say to the last kid cut?"

    • RL

      We let the last couple cut stay on to be managers, this is tough for them, when not doing manger duties they can participate in drills. This improves their skills. I have two seniors starting on my team now, who were cut as 7th graders from the 7th&8th grade team. They stuck around all season and improved, they tried out as 8th graders and made the team. Played two years JV and now finishing up their final two on varsity.

    • John Forman

      Seeing if my niece could be team manager was exactly one of the suggestions I gave my brother RL.

    • Oliver Wagner

      I think telling the truth is the best thing you can do. For example: “I know you gave your best and I liked what I saw. But you didn’t make the team this time. There were players better then you. I would like to encourage you to continue play volleyball. There is a club team looking for players…”

      I don’t think that it has to hurt the kid if you tell him what you saw and acknowledge his effort. And you even have to tell him if his effort wasn’t good enough. If you do so in a friendly manner it has a chance to cut through and help the player changing his attitude or working even harder for the next try outs.

    • Sonya

      I opted to do face-to-face cuts this year for my 7th grade team. I wanted the 7th graders who didn’t make the team to understand that this should not be the end of the road for them if they enjoy volleyball and want to continue playing. I encourage them to attend clinics, join club teams, and do everything in their power to get better before next year’s tryouts. It was tough, there were a lot of emotions from some of the girls, however I think this is the best way to encourage them bir to give up.

      • John Forman

        I always wonder about why there are cuts at the middle school level. Seems like we should be keeping as many kids at that level as we can. This is especially so when we consider how many of them we might lose all together if they get cut. Plus, making longer-term judgements on athletes in that age group are super hard. Could be missing out on kids who would be good players down the road as they develop further physically.

        That said, I understand the limitations that might be involved in terms of how many kids can actually be handled.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.