How Coaches and Athletes Can Deal with "Cuts"

November 28, 2012 | Brian Lebo

Cut Basketball Player

Regardless of the sport, to build a championship-winning team takes top athletes. Unfortunately, this usually means that not everyone who tries out is up to the standard. Although in most cases it's necessary, making cuts is the least appealing aspect of team-building for coaches. And it's even harder for players; not only do they miss out on a chance to play, they have to deal with feelings of rejection and inadequacy. (Athletes see also: Tryouts Are a "Head Game" and Tips on How to Make Your Basketball Team.)

If you find yourself going through this heartbreak, here are some thoughts for dealing with the cut process—for both coaches and players.

Coaches

I'm not suggesting you engage in a detailed, developmental discussion with every player you cut. However, if a kid takes the initiative to approach you for your evaluative opinion, take a few minutes to provide him or her with some honest, quality feedback. Here are some tips:

Make your feedback actionable 

There's nothing worse than being told you're being cut because you're too small. That's like telling a kid you're cutting him or her because he or she has blue eyes. As coaches, we can do better than that. Let's be honest; if the kid could flat-out play, his or her stature would probably be less of a factor. Be willing to provide the athlete with developmental feedback that includes one or two action items, like improved ball handling or shooting mechanics. Give the kid something that is within his or her control.

Point out the player's current strengths as well as where he or she needs to improve 

This gives the player some goals to work on in preparation for tryouts the following season. Wish the athlete well in the coming season, and indicate that you would like to see him or her try again. But don't make any promises, like saying, "if you work hard you will make the team next year."

Speak to the player in person

A phone call is second best. The athlete deserves your personal attention.

Don't post a cut list

The athlete you're cutting deserves to hear it from you, not via an impersonal public message board.

Be prepared to deal with the parents

This is often the most difficult challenge. Most parents lack objectivity when it comes to their kids, because they see them with their hearts. If approached by parents, be willing to engage them in a discussion about their son or daughter. Just keep it objective and non-comparative. Avoid being argumentative (even if they are), and provide the same type of feedback you gave to their child.

Avoid comparing the player you cut with other players on the team

Limit your developmental feedback to the player's own self-improvement.

Players

There is absolutely nothing fun about not making the team. But if you face this unfortunate circumstance, consider the following suggestions.

Talk to the coach

Get an accurate understanding of your strengths and weaknesses by asking what the coach thinks you do well and where you can improve. Learn what he or she is looking for in athletes.

Consider how serious are you about this sport

Are you dedicated enough to put in the work and develop yourself in order to be more competitive for a spot on next year's team?

Consider taking your talents elsewhere

Perhaps there is another sport or activity you would enjoy and even excel at. Use the open season to explore other opportunities.

Don't blame the coach and don't take it personally

The coach's goal is simple: he or she is trying to select players who represent the best fit for the program.

If it's a school team, consider playing at the community or recreational level

This will help you to continue developing your talents for next year's tryouts.

Consult a professional

If you're really serious about improvement, engage a professional who can provide you with sport-specific skills training, strength and conditioning and/or nutrition advice.

Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Must See
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,891,510
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,309,204
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 20,441,327

Featured Videos

Abby Wambach's Med Ball Core Workout Views: 187,099
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 81,330
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Views: 227,291
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,852
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,390
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,865,925
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,784
Johny Hendricks Workout Overview
Views: 822,554

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Understanding and Overcoming "Fear of Failure" "In order to succeed your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure" Fear: In terms...

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

A Coach Describes What It

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

4 Tips for Building Confidence

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

How Mentally Tough Are You?

Tips to Be a Better Leader

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself