You just found out you didn’t make the team this season—so what do you do now?
While failing to make the cut is a real bummer, recognize this: Putting yourself out there is HARD—we’ve all been there!—and when you try and don’t succeed, it can really sting. But being upset just means that you care—a lot. And that is a GOOD thing.
What should you do next? These 5 steps will set you (back) on the path to success.
1. Accept the coaches’ decision—and embrace what feelings follow. It’s OK and valid to be disappointed, hurt, frustrated, angry, or down. And it’s OK to wallow in those feelings for a little bit, but don’t spend too much time there. Remember: Getting cut from a team does not define you as an athlete or as a person.
2. Get feedback from your coaches and your parents. Once the emotions have simmered down and you feel ready to receive constructive feedback, ask your coach if you can speak with them privately to gain some insight on why you didn’t make the team. Try to get as detailed feedback as possible so you know exactly how and where you need to improve. Also, talk to your parents to see if they have any observations about your level of desire and/or preparation. You may think that you worked out hard and prepped adequately, but sometimes it can be difficult to evaluate ourselves. After talking to different mentors (parents, coaches, or otherwise) you may realize that MORE time and effort needs to be spent.
3. Set new goals, if you plan to continue. Is your goal to make the team next season? Be a starter on your school’s varsity squad? Become a more skilled player? Improve your conditioning? Write them down, and start the process immediately.
4. Create an action plan and commit to becoming better NOW. Your plan should be targeted to areas you specifically want to improve and detailed about how you will execute it. Make sure too that you discuss your action plan with your parents—they are your biggest supporters and will do everything they can to help you! You probably have less than a year to get ready for next year’s tryouts, so you’ll want to get started right away. Most teams will be practicing five or six days a week, so you do not want to take the season off and allow them to further outpace you.
5. Go for it again! All athletes have to learn how to deal with failure. It’s a major part of sports (and life). Someone once told me that it’s not how many times you fall that counts, but how fast you get back up. The great athletes understand that if they bounce back fast, their next opportunity might be only a moment or two away.