Preparing Your Child for Tryouts or Auditions

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    By: ActivityTree

    The trend toward specialization and heightened competition in kid’s activities has significantly increased the likelihood your child will be expected to participate in a try out or an audition.  This is true if your child’s passion is soccer, dance, drama, swimming, or virtually any other sport or activity.  Kids are expected to endure the pressures of these evaluations at a younger and younger age.  Here are some tips for parents to help your children prepare and take it all in stride.

    Tell Them What to Expect

    If it is your child’s first tryout or audition he is likely to be anxious simply because he does not know what to expect.  Explain he will be doing the same types of activities he does each time he practices, plays or performs. This will help alleviate his fears.  If the evaluator is someone she knows and likes, tell her who will be evaluating her.  Describe the skills the evaluators will be looking for.  If you don’t know, ask the child’s teacher or coach what criteria will be used during the assessment. 

    When you talk to your child, clarify that the evaluators are not looking for perfection – everyone makes mistakes. A child’s reaction following a mistake can demonstrate their maturity and confidence; skills as important as technical skills. Take the opportunity to highlight your child’s strengths by saying things like, "Your are the kind of person who never gives up" or "One of your strengths is your ability to keep going even if you miss a step or forget a line."  A child who is confident going into a tryout or an audition can focus on her performance instead of the outcome and can remain poised even if she makes an error. 

    Be Realistic

    Boosting your child’s confidence is important, but so is a realistic assessment of the likely result of the process.  It can be difficult for parents to accurately gauge their child’s skill level.  Talk to your child’s coach or teacher about your child.  Ask where your child’s skills are in comparison to the group as a whole. Ask him or her to highlight your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

    We all want the best for our children. It is easy to believe "the best" is the most challenging part, or a roster spot on the most competitive team.  However, the purpose of the evaluation process is to place your child with children of comparable skill and commitment to ensure his continued growth.  Your child will not thrive in an environment where he feels he is often falling short of expectations.  Each child develops at his own pace.  This is true of physical stature, technical skills and social skills.  All are important in an assessment. 

    Based on your observations, and the feedback you received from your child’s coach or teacher, help your child develop realistic goals. As important, discuss the options if your child does not achieve her goal this time.  This could include participating in specialized training in the next season, having fun in a less competitive environment, focusing on development of a particular skill, or trying a brand new activity. These alternatives develop your child’s sense of security.  A "failed" evaluation is not the end of the world, there are alternatives; a plan if it happens.

    If your child is committed to continuing in the sport or activity regardless of the outcome of the evaluation, help your child understand her goals should be long term.  If she does not achieve her goal this year, she will keep working toward the goal in the future.  Even the most successful athletes and performers faced rejection.  They did not quit, they worked harder.

    Above all, make it absolutely clear to your child your love is not conditioned upon the outcome of the assessment.  Your child should know, without any doubt, you are proud of him no matter the result.  Your only expectation should be for your child to put forth his best effort. 

    Be Prepared

    If you still have a bit of time prior to tryouts, there are a few things you can do to prepare your child.  Your child can spend time working to improve his skills.  Focus on the skills your coach or teacher identified as weaknesses, or the skills you know the evaluator will be looking for.  Typically, this can be done at home.  Many athletic organizations offer pre-tryout camps to help prepare athletes and  supplement practice at home.  If this is not available in your activity or area, you can ask your coach or teacher to schedule a tryout practice for your team or class, or your child individually.

    Emphasize the fact that every practice, game or performance is part of the assessment.  Your child should give her best every day, even at practice.  In many cases, it is not only the assessment that determines your child’s placement.  Recommendations from coaches or teachers are often considered, and even solicited.  The effort your child puts forth every day will go a long way to ensuring a positive recommendation.

    It probably goes without saying, but prior to the assessment be sure you child gets sufficient sleep, is hydrated and eats nutritious meals.  Also plan to be early, not just on time.  No need to add to the pressure with concerns about missing the assessment or being late.

    Explain the Importance of Effort and Attitude

    Your child cannot control the outcome of the assessment. She can control her effort and attitude. Evaluators look for children who are giving their all.  It is an indication that the child cares and is willing to work to get what they want.  An evaluator may make changes in order to observe the participants' reactions. Let your child know she may be asked to play a different position or perform a new part or dance.  The purpose is to determine how well your child takes instruction and handles the unexpected.  Explain this to your child so she will not challenge the instruction due to a fear of making a mistake.

    Assessments like tryouts and auditions can be stressful for parents and children.  Remind your child to have fun and smile.  Evaluators will be looking for children with good attitudes, who enjoy what they are doing.

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