My last post focused on some tips for trying out for premiere soccer teams. This post addresses those situations where roster openings don't exist and the coach feels that the team needs one or two different players with a different skill set. Maybe not even "better" players necessary but simply needs a better fit. For example, a team may ultimately develop with an overabundance of quick-footed midfielders but lacks defenders or attackers. Even Barca would be just a very good team with a lot of draws if Messi didn't find the net.
What if a coach wants to "cut" players?
For the first five years of my daughter's soccer career, the coach did not cut. Luckily, she never really had to but she also told the girls that if they worked hard she would not cut until they were older. She felt at the time (and I agree) that, at a young age, there is no reason to make teammates compete with each other. Indeed, this was part of why I like the coach and was happy to leave the poisonous atmosphere of Hill's Gymnastics waiting room for the soccer sideline.
However, as teams get older and more competitive and space on competitive teams is more rare, "cutting" becomes more common. Does that make cutting a child any easier - for the coach or for the manager? After all, the child is being told they won't have a place on the team for the next season. This is the same child who worked hard and shares in the team's success.
I have also noticed that most people seem to support cuts...as long as their child isn't the one being cut. It's NIMBY, applied to sports.
Timing and communication seem to be the biggest keys to doing it better. Nothing should be a surprise, to the parents or the player. Also, a cut player should have sufficient notice to find another team which means that coaches should hedge their bets either. Again, cutting a child really doesn't mean a player doesn't have the skill but instead may just mean that they just don't have a role. Managers should stay far away from roster decisions as there are conflict of interest concerns but managers can and should encourage communication and work on timing. Parents can also act earlier - if you child isn't playing as much as they would like, encourage the child to talk to the coach in April, not June. Don't wait for the coach to tell you.
When a cut occurs, the emotions fly. Money and commitment are brought up. I really think this argument doesn't hold water, however. Yes, the parents may have paid as much as everyone else and may have been committed volunteers, but, so was the coach and the money only covers this season, not a future commitment. If a player wanted to leave and a coach whined that he spent all the time training the player, would the player stay? I doubt it. (This doesn't discount loyalty - just says that it goes both ways).
Also, MSYSA rules restrict a coach from cutting during a whole seasonal year but allow a player to walk away at any time. Between seasons is the only time a coach can make changes and, even so, a coach that makes wholesale changes to a roster (I'd say anything more than 20%) would probably not maintain a good reputation. Indeed, I've seen and heard of coaches who never cut only to lose players who felt (or whose parents felt) that the coach wasn't looking out for the best interests of the team.
There are arguments to both sides. Trying to keep emotion to a minimum when a 12 year old says they'll never play soccer again is difficult. But kids are resilient. There is always another team and always another coach that will appreciate what you daughter brings.
Pity the coach, too. It can't be easy on them. Pity the managers for sure, who become mediators and counselors but have no solution.
This post is long and lacks a conclusion. Blast away, dear readers! I hope you can share your thoughts too.