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Selecting your Squad

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA

Determining who makes your team and who does not is obviously a necessary aspect of coaching, but it can also be a difficult, unpleasant task. And it can just as tough for the players. Athletes want to be part of the team and it can be a very difficult to be told that you don’t measure up.

The following are a few practical suggestions to make the process a little more positive and bearable for the athletes. And when there are fewer problems with those trying out, there should be less stress for you.

  1. Never post a list of players who are being “cut.” This can be extremely embarrassing for the young people in this position. In education-based athletics, you want to be considerate and concerned with the well-being of young people.
  2. Indicate in your posted notice who should report to practice on the following day. Always add a note to the list offering any player who did not make the final squad an opportunity to stop in to see you.
  3. Conduct this one-on-one meeting behind closed doors and as compassionately as possible. One important aspect of this meeting is to provide suggestions to the young person of what they can do for improvement.
  4. Never compare one player with another. In classrooms, teachers do not share grades or test results in discussions with other students or parents. Coaches must take this same approach.
  5. Answer questions during this session. And always finish by offering the candidate the opportunity to try out again the following year.
  6. Close the meeting by saying something along the lines of, “Thank you for trying out and I’ll see you around school.” As an educator, you want to maintain a good relationship with all students. A coach doesn’t only have an impact upon his or her team members, but also on many areas of the school community.

With a little thought, preparation and compassion, you can turn a difficult situation into one that has a positive outcome. It is the right thing to do for everyone involved.


David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach.  In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the Nastional Association for Sport and Physical Education.  He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association's Athletic Director of the Year.  Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country.

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