Your Athletes Deserve More Than “The List”

Concentration by geyerba
Concentration, a photo by geyerba on Flickr.

One of my passions as a teacher has been coaching. I have been coaching volleyball since I started teaching and have had so many satisfying experiences with athletes and their parents during the volleyball season.

I coach grade 8 and 9 girls and have already had two tryouts and one set of cuts. I think any coach will tell you that the absolute worst part of coaching is telling a young person who desperately wants to be on the team that they just didn’t make it this year.

I remember the days of my own schooling when coaches would put up a list that contained the names of the athletes who made it. It was a traumatic experience for many. When I started coaching, I did that too. That’s how its done, right? Then I saw the devastation, the embarassment that kids endured because of the list.

I realized…our kids deserve more than that.

So coaches, this is my plea to you. If you are still using the list as a way to let your athletes know if they made the team, please stop.

One on one discussions are sometimes difficult for coaches but they are necessary. Athletes need to know the reasons why, what they can improve on for next year and they need to know that you care for them and support them.

Also they need to have time to digest the information before they face their peers.

Give them the respect they deserve and talk to them face to face.


7 thoughts on “Your Athletes Deserve More Than “The List”

  1. I am counting my blessings that I do not have to do the “list” thing. I coach at a small school district. We only have 11 girls out this year for volleyball, this includes both JV and Varsity teams, so we do not even have the numbers to scrimmage at practice. I’ll take the small numbers over having to cut girls any day. I can’t even imagine having to tell some young hopeful girl that she did not make the team! Kudos to you for recognizing the importance of making those personal connections with these young girls and getting rid of “the list”. I truly hope others follow your lead!

  2. Coaching is like teaching in that way (I coach middle school baseball). The good teacher/coaches will take the sub par students/players and have a genuine discussion with them because In he end, school sports are simply another way to prepare a chi,d for the real world. Wouldn’t yo
    u have grown more if the interviewer for a job you were not chose for told you how you could have interviewed better or what was lacking in your qualifications? I agree…be honest and open, even if it takes half of a practice.

  3. Love this post Marci. My first year coaching at a school I had 5 tryouts about 100 boys show up on the first day. As a rookie coach, I shortlisted each day and posted ‘the list’ each morning outside my door. I could hear the kids expressions and how bad they felt – the anticipation of coming to the door only to have their hopes crushed. I had kids at my door upset and a couple of parent calls asking for explanations… Ever since, I talk to the kids and personally tell them if they made it or not. They made the effort to put themselves out there and try out and I need to give them the one on one time in return. This time was so important in building relationships with the students.

  4. Thank you all for your comments.
    Laura…only 11 players! I’m so glad you don’t have to make cuts.
    I also love the point about job interviews. Feedback is so important. It would be beneficial to hear what you could improve on and how you could have a better chance at the next one.
    Ang, I cringed at your story about hearing the kids outside your office. That’s exactly what made me change my mind about the list too. It is more difficult and time consuming, but it is absolutely worth the discomfort and time.

  5. Great post. I know exactly the situation you describe. I was one of those young players searching the list for my name.
    Today, I’m a busy and excited coach in our middle school. I coach the grade 8 girls team, and hate making cuts, although necessary when 85 girls show up for 12 spots on the “rep” team.
    I have the girls get all their bags, etc. and during the last 30 mins of practice, I call them into a room that has two exits. They bring in their belongins

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