What if your athlete loses a starting spot?
My daughter played on a team one year where her friend lost her starting spot when the season was 2/3 done. The reason: the coach was drowning in a losing season and was trying a new offense, desperate for some wins.
Dad was mad, the friend was mad and my daughter felt bad for her friend.
What if that happens to your child?
What should your child do?
- If your child is in the dark, encourage him to talk to coach. It is my personal opinion that when an athlete is stripped of his starting spot, the coach should communicate why. If your child has no clue why, then he should ask the coach. Not angrily, not pouting. Just a simple, “Coach, why was I taken out of the starting lineup? What was I not doing that I needed to be doing?”
- This is a chance for your child to fight for something that is important to her. If your child is struggling to return to her A-game, then learning how to bounce back will be the first step. If she is not struggling, but the coach is just making changes, then encourage your child to continue to fight for what she wants. If starting is important to her, then she must keep working hard in practice, doing her best, and staying positive.
How can your child come out on top?
- She will learn what it means to be a team player. It is not fun, it is hard to watch, and as a parent, you most likely will want to wring the coach’s neck. There’s no easy way to get through a situation like this. Any way you look at it, it’s hard to swallow. But with your positive encouragement, your child has an opportunity to learn a very important lesson on being a team player. These are the kind of lessons that will affect the rest of her life.
- He can better appreciate and understand others’ feelings. Chances are, when your child loses a starting spot, it will be an experience he won’t forget. He will know what others feel and how they see the court or field from the bench.
What YOU can do
- Be objective about your child’s performance. This is probably the hardest thing of all for a parent to do. We all see our kids through very biased eyes. We all think our kids are the best player on the court. But if you really want to help your child, you must be able to see the issues clearly. Was he struggling? Was his frustration felt on the court or field?
- Don’t project your frustration on your child. Maybe your child is not frustrated with losing her starting spot because she understands what the coach is doing. If she is not upset, don’t poison her positive attitude. Keep your aggravation to yourself.
- If your child is upset, listen and sort. Listen to his anger and hurt, and sort through it. What is real and what is simply perceived by your child? Does your child understand what has happened or has the coach left him in the dark?
Parents, help your child come out on top of a situation that can make them feel very low. If you have questions or a comment about your child’s experience in losing a starting spot, I’d love to hear more.
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