By Vic Pruden.   Each season begins with tryouts. Deciding who is to be on your team can be difficult. Informing those who will not be on the team can be even more difficult. Over the years, I have used several approaches to cutting players.  Like many coaches, I have posted a team list. Those not on the list had been cut. Invariably, a number of those players came to ask why I didn't pick them. Dutifully, I tried to provide reasons why.


Some years later, I stopped
posting a list. During tryouts, I would speak directly to players, informing
them that they would not be on the team. If anyone asked why, I would try to
provide a suitable answer. All of the answers, in one way or another, tended to
focus on a deficiency in some aspect of their play.

The reactions of those who
asked "why" were mixed. Although all were disappointed, many handled
their disappointment with a no-hard-feelings attitude, while others were bitter
and angry. This latter situation was not a positive experience for me or them.

Players who are trying out
want to know only whether or not they are on the team. Giving them reasons why
you did not select them does not ease their disappointment and pain. Indeed, it
is likely to make it worse. Also, what happens if one of your players, say a
point guard, cannot continue to play? You then have to contact a player you
just cut, having, for example, "explained" that he/she is too short,
has a weak left hand, and has a poor perimeter shot. Think about it.

Now, at the beginning of
tryouts, I explain the following: "My job is to select players. I will not
select all of you. I'm sure that what you're most interested in knowing, as
soon as possible, is whether or not you're on the team. Consequently, as soon
as I decide, you'll be the first to know. I will explain neither why I picked
you nor why I did not. However, if I do not pick you, I would be happy to meet
with you later to answer any questions you may have about any aspect of your
game. Play hard, play smart. Let's begin."

Vic Pruden

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