Preparing your child for an audition or sports tryout can be challenging, especially if you don’t know the process or you don’t have experience with the particular activity.
These tips can help you guide your child toward feeling more confident about tryouts and, even more importantly, about trying again next time if he or she doesn’t land the part or make the team.
Do Your Research
Many organizations list detailed information on their websites for both parents and children to see what happens and what skills are needed to participate.
For example, “The AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] has information on its website devoted to questions and answers about tryouts,” says Reginald Floyd, who serves on the sport committee for the Lake Erie Ohio AAU. “There are drills on the site kids can work on to improve their skills.”
Encourage Your Child To Talk To Someone
Besides going online, you might want to call the organization and ask what advice they might have for auditions or tryouts.
Some groups have workshops where organizers offer tips and give individualized guidance.
Your child may be more at ease during auditions if he or she has a good idea on what’s coming — from how long the audition lasts to what kinds of questions the director or coach may ask.
“If you’ve never auditioned before it can be really helpful to have your child talk to another child who has gone through the process,” says Michelle Regelbrugge, mom of three, who’s also on the board of trustees for the Aurora Community Theatre and co-produces its children’s summer workshop.
Avoid The Rush
“The best advice I could offer is not to wait until the last minute to prepare,” says Joan Katz, the director of education and community for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. For example, many children start a year in advance practicing the pieces that are required for performances during auditions for the Youth Orchestra.
Katz notes there are other practical ways to be ready, too, such as making sure your child gets plenty of sleep the night before.
Also, as a parent, know exactly what time you need to get your child to the tryout — down to where you’ll need to park, if the area is unfamiliar. Leave plenty of travel time so that your child isn’t stressed about getting to the tryout on time.
Explain to your child that he or she needs to set reasonable expectations about his or her chances of getting certain parts or positions on a team — this goes for parents too.
“If your child is 15 and really tall, no matter how fabulous she is during tryouts, she’s just not going to get the part of Annie,” Regelbrugge says.
“You never can tell what position coaches are looking for,” says Floyd about AAU tryouts. “Your child may be a great guard, but the team doesn’t need another guard — you just don’t know.
Understand The Reward
Your child may be nervous, but it’s also a good lesson.
Dealing with nerves and testing skills is part of trying out, however, it can be a rewarding experience for your child too.
“At young ages I try to tell children, ‘the most important thing is you’re going to go and audition, that’s the reward — being able to get up there and do it,” Regelbrugge says.
She recalls her own daughter had a shaky audition for her first production.
“She sang this song that was completely not appropriate for musical theater,” Regelbrugge says. “It just wasn’t right.” However, her daughter, Eve, then age 8, got the part.
There also have been plenty of other times Eve, now 13, hasn’t made it into the show. Yet, Regelbrugge’s noticed as her daughter has become comfortable auditioning, she’s developed more confidence.
“(Eve) is not afraid of that process anymore,” she says.
Model Good Behavior
It’s understandable that children are sad if they don’t get on the team. Go ahead and let them express their feelings, but follow up with some reassurance versus blaming others.
“It was really tough to see someone else get the role that my daughter wanted and there were times when I wanted to call the director and give him a piece of my mind, but I never did,” Regelbrugge says. She also encourages her daughter to congratulate friends who do get parts.
Don’t Give Up on Trying Out
Sounds cliché, but the old adage holds true when it comes to tryouts.
In the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, more than 1,200 young musicians have participated since its inception in 1986. Each year only about 100 children make the cut.
“You can’t make the stage any bigger; there are only so many young people we can take,” Katz says. “Many young people don’t make it on their first tryout. Nobody should feel awful if they don’t make it. There’s always another time to try again.”
Floyd adds to Katz’s sentiments when it comes to sports tryouts. “The reality is that not everyone can make a team, but everyone can learn from the experience.”
Both noted when children don’t make the team, or the orchestra, often the coach or director will point out other organizations in the area where the kids may be a good fit.