Tryouts: Why a rejection can be good for you

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So in the last couple days, the dust has settled on the tryout season for my former players. The summer is naturally a tough time anyway for young players with the pressures of exams and an ever evolving social environment but the American soccer tryout system always seems to increase nerves for all those concerned. For some of the older teen players, the demands of the college process are well under way too and overall it seems like there is no real break to even catch their breath after what have been grueling seasons for teams.

Weeks (or even days for some teams) after the season is out, attention has turned swiftly to tryouts.

This year the whole tryout process in the US has been intensified with the USSF’s incoming regulations for 16-17 that youth teams are to now be grouped by birth year. This sees many teammates, and with it old friends to be forced apart and so to soccer parents, who no longer will have the pleasure of watching their children competing on the same team. With this added ingredient in place, the tryout season this year will have been a more than usually chaotic experience for many.

So then it all starts. The rumors start circulating, parents start gossiping, players start panicking, it becomes somewhat of an overblown circus. In reality, it is just a couple of games under the watchful eye of the coach. The pressure and pain starts then, when we start attaching added significance to these games. Why are these seen as any more important as another game during the season? Why would a player try less harder during the season? Strangely enough I’ve seen it! But anyway, regardless of any outcome, it is just one snapshot of a player and as described below for the following reasons, any rejection or unfavorable outcome shouldn’t be treated as a disaster!

Here are ten reasons why a tryout rejection can actually be a good thing:

1) Remember it’s not personal
Any rejection from a coach from a tryout is not personal. It’s all about their judgement as to whether or not you’re a good player or not. Simple as that. You’ve been judged as to not being reliable enough on the field, not off it. It means they deem you are not consistent enough on the field, not off it. All of this being the judgement of one person. Don’t let the thoughts of a coach define who you go on to be.

2) It allows you to rethink your game
Hearing ‘no’ can be a blessing. It may give you that shock initially but it also allows you some time and space mentally to evaluate and honestly assess your game. Are there areas that you’ve neglected in favor of others? What has your attitude been like this season? Has it been consistent in training as has been in the big games? These difficult questions will provide you with some key areas that you can begin to focus on to improve or perhaps maintain for the coming season.

3) It gives you a chance to select a new environment
To some extent you get to be a chooser, a selector once more. You are in charge of your own destiny again. Change can be a wonderful thing if you see it as an opportunity for growth and personal evolution. Leaving familiar surroundings will be hard at first but remember how you felt when the same surroundings were once new to you. The nerves and anxiety eventually disapated and strong bonds and connections were made. What’s to say this can’t happen again at your new club.

4) It gives you a chance to fight for your new place
The privilege to compete is something that players sometimes take for granted. You learn so much more in times of adversity and battle than you do in times of certainty and comfort. The fact that you have to prove yourself to your new club can be channeled as a healthy intrinsic motivating factor. It will prove hugely beneficial for any player to have to fight for their place rather than walk on to a team in the long term. Learning to earn something through effort rather than being handed it without the effort is a priceless lesson. Furthermore the fact that you are competing with new competitors and not old teammates makes it a far more interesting fight!

5) You can reinvent yourself as a player
Perhaps you were always the substitute fullback or the maybe the utility midfielder plugging gaps when starters needed rests. Whatever the case may have been last year or in previous years, it matters little now. This more than any is the perfect opportunity to change your position and state your case to play in your favored position but also in the style you want. Referring to your honest self evaluation, set about highlighting your strengths and specialist skills and more importantly look to really emphasize them with some serious work on them during the off season. Time to rethink what you stand for and to then show that on the field.

Antoine Griezemann left France for Spain in his youth after being told he was too small. It proved to be the best rejection he ever received

6) Develop a new coach-player relationship
The sum of all the coach-player relationships are at the heart of any team delivering success. At their best, the relationship sees both parties give equally and give regularly. The coach provides the guidance and the structure in which to flourish while the player looks to bring focus and maximal effort. The effects can be spectacular. But if one side is weak in what value they provide then the effects are incomparable. Having the opportunity to work under a new coach gives the player the chance to be a better ‘giver’ and in turn be a better ‘receiver’.

7) Can you use the previous experience as a point of reference
Changing your surroundings will lead to a lot of questions internally but insight may also be found internally. The experiences from the previous season can provide a strong reference point for which you will be able to compare and make sense of things. Perhaps there are things that you appreciate now more than before in your old environment or conversely there may be something that you now view positively thanks to a change of perspective due to your new environment.

8) Keeps you humble
Your attitude is everything. Having faced ‘no’ for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly as mentioned before will be humbling experience for your ego. This is a good thing. Having to face the fact that you are not immune to the firing line should be seen as an opportunity to reassess your thinking and your attitude. Perhaps the season before you were getting a little too comfortable and slipping into occasional complacency. You should make it a focus to eradicate the thoughts behind this that were leading to slack actions. There can be no room for it at your new club if you are to bounce back.

9) Makes you mentally stronger
In time you will look back at this judgement and be thankful. For if thought and acted upon in a positive manner (and this is key) it can lead to the development of some serious mental fortitude. You will have a competitive advantage over others both on your new team and those you leave behind as you now appreciate what it takes to get what you want. You now realize the dedication to your craft that is required and having come through the other side of a rejection will give you a great leg up on your opponents in the season as well as the tryout competition next year.

10) Just means not right now
Rejection is not a failure. There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just an outcome. The thoughts we attach to the outcome are what give it meaning. Remember this is an outcome of a tryout, so in this case do not take the failure and stretch it to extend it’s significance and affect you for the rest of the new season. The outcome is meant for that time and place only. Use it the right way and go work on your game and come back next year improved and ready for a different outcome. Keep in mind that the ‘no’ now is meant for now, but not ‘no’ anytime after.

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