Dear Coach: I was cut from my school's basketball team twice. Now I'm afraid of trying out again. How can I overcome this fear of rejection?
Dear Frightened: One of the most important lessons we learn from sports is how to deal with failure. Every Little League coach has told his players that even Hall of Famers fail seven out of every 10 times at bat And every hoops player will at some point hear the story of Michael Jordan's being cut from his high school team. "Failure is part of the learning process" says Alan Goldberg, sports psychologist at Connecticut.
"When you lose or get cut, it's a chance to take your game and your training to the next level" Find out what you need to do to improve, and redouble your efforts. At the very hast, you'll show the coach you won't give up. As Goldberg points out, "Coaches like to see players who are motivated."
Dear Coach: I coach a basketball team of third-and fourth-grade boys. Some show up to practice more often than others. Should I reward the kids who show up with more playing time?
Dear Fair: If a player has a good excuse for missing practice and tells you in advance, don't punish him for it. But make sure the team understands that unexcused absences could result in less playing time. "You should let the players and their parents know what's expected of them," says Brian Kroening, a youth specialist for the American Sport Education Program. "The kids should take responsibility for letting the coach know if they aren't going to show up."