One of the more difficult jobs for coaches is when they have to cut players in order to put together a team with limited slots. In the best of all possible worlds, there would never be any cutting and schools would be able to field enough different level teams for everyone to be able to participate. Unfortunately, that’s not the real world and this emotionally devastating process continues.
However, when cutting is left in the hands of a competent coach, he/she approaches their job with COURAGE and turns it into a constructive teaching moment for those athletes who had to be turned away.
The teaching moment is around the lesson of failure/disappointment and good coaches take the time to meet with each and every athlete they cut, explain to them clearly why they were cut and specifically what they need to work on in between seasons to potentially make the team for the next year. Good coaches understand here that cutting is painful and should be handled privately, with sensitivity.
They do not impersonally post a list with those names who made it and those who didn’t! They do not provide general feedback like “You just have to work harder!” or “You weren’t good enough!” They do not avoid being honest with the player. They do not avoid their emotionally difficult, but critically important job here! Instead, they leave the cut athlete with hope that if they invest the time and energy, if they improve specific weaknesses, then they will have a better shot at it next year!
If you’re going to cut an athlete, you as the coach owe it to them to treat them with directness, honesty and respect, and if possible, to encourage them to work harder to improve for the next time.