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Team Placements are Not Grades

It’s tryout season. You send your player out to the field with a number pinned to their shirt. You’ve prepared them well. They ate a good breakfast, got lots of rest, and arrived with all their gear. Tryouts come and go and your player has not made the 1st team. They made the B team. How could this happen? How do I respond? Does this mean she has failed? Do they need to choose another sport or find a new club?

Back in grade school when I was learning math, my friend Jeff was in the advanced math group. He completed his math quickly and earned high praise for his work. I performed near the middle of the class. I also completed my work quickly and achieved high marks. The only difference is Jeff and I were working on different problems. It’s a good thing I wasn’t in Jeff’s advanced group, too. Advanced math would have been far too difficult for me at the time and I would have spent more time struggling than learning. My parents trusted my teacher to choose a math group that matched my skill level. They trusted her to pick a group so that I could grow and learn at my level.

Now the subject isn’t math, it’s soccer, or futsal. Players are still placed in groups but this time the groups are teams. Jeff makes the B team and I make the A team. Just like in school, our parents trusted our coaches to choose a team that matched our skill level.

In large clubs that form multiple teams in an age group, players and parents can make the mistake of viewing A teams and B teams like grades. My player is on the B team so they must be doing B work. No! All teams, whether the 1st or 4th are created to give a challenge appropriate to each teams’ collective level. If your player is placed on the B team, this is the placement that will suit them. This is not a reflection of their status.

The opportunity to play club soccer in the US is a blessing. If you are reading this, it is likely that your player is able to join a club and play on a team where they have access to quality fields, quality coaches, and a competition level that matches their own. This is an incredible privilege - a privilege that many children do not have.

Parents need to remove the stigma of A teams and B teams and view them like math groups. Teams are players placed in groups that match their current level. Teachers are professionals who use their expertise to create groups that give appropriate challenges and successes to their math students. Coaches are sport professionals who use their expertise to create teams that give appropriate challenges and successes to their players.

If your player attends a try-out this year, be thankful that a group of professional coaches has evaluated your child’s ability and then chosen a team that will give them an appropriate challenge. Be thankful that their placement will help them grow as a person, and as a player.