Widely publicized over the past few years has been this trend in youth athletics (and in all aspects of growing up in general) that ‘everyone wins.’ Whether you agree or disagree with the notion that everyone gets a trophy for participating is not the topic I am addressing on this post. I want to spend some time on the topic of
what to do if my athlete is picked last.
We have all been there at one time in our life. Whether you were at recess in elementary school or playing a sport after school, at some point in your life you were involved in a situation where teams were divvyed up and captains picked teams. Back and forth went the selections and mysteriously your name kept getting left out…then it happened, you were the last one picked. This was certainly not a good feeling, and it will never be a positive experience for anyone.
But, because it isn’t a comfortable or positive feeling should we try to ensure our children avoid this? I don’t believe so. I recently was discussing this topic with a parent and was asked this question –
“Lately I’ve noticed that my child and a few others seem to always be picked last…should I get involved in this?” NO! There is no reason to get involved in this type of situation. First and foremost, what a great thing that this child is even out playing sports that are organized and ran by other kids…that is refreshing in this day and age! Kids need to have the freedom to pick whom they choose in the order that they choose. Staying out of this natural interaction will help children learn invaluable life skills that they would not have learned otherwise. Growing up I was often picked last and I didn’t like it. However, it caused me to want to work harder to get better so I could avoid that! It was a key learning in my life that was caused by competition and no child should be deprived of this key learning. If your child is consistently picked last, that’s okay! There is a role for you, but it isn’t necessarily to get involved and take action to fight this battle for your child. Ask them key questions about this situation –
Are you having fun playing with your friends?
What is your favorite game/sport you play with your friends? Do you have the same teams or do you pick new teams each time? Do you get to pick the teams sometimes? Questions and conversation will help you as the parent understand how your child is feeling about the situation. If they seem to be down about themselves for being picked last, address this head on. Maybe there is a way you can work with your child to help improve their skills – what a great opportunity for bonding! Also, this will be an invaluable teaching opportunity for you as the parent. Our children need to realize that being picked last is okay! They need to realize first that their desire to continue to play is something to be proud of and if they really want to succeed and improve it takes
hard work and practice. I can’t think of many traits to instill in our children that are more important than hard work! Embrace organized sports for your child, especially those instances where the kids organize the game. If your child is picked last, that’s okay…it’s more than okay, it is great! Embrace it, take your ego out of it and help your child improve and grow, they will be better because of it!
Unfortunately sometimes bullying is involved in youth sports and cannot be tolerated. To ensure that you are aware of all the warning signs of bullying please click here. Written By: Eric Blumenthal