My 11-year-old has faced serious disappointment over the last year when she twiced tried out for her middle school's sports teams. She practiced hard over the two months leading up to tryouts, when the school ran a once-weekly club to instruct and encourage the students. She was, however, new to both sports and did not know the techniques -- and it obviously showed on the try-out days when she didn't make it.
The results were posted online, with the students' tryout numbers listed if they made it. Each listing was followed by a note saying that students who didn't make it were encouraged to talk with the coach about the tryout process.
I loved that! It was an opportunity for feedback that students often don't get in the classroom. Yes, they get grades, but they don't get verbal constructive criticism. My daughter was not comfortable talking with the coach, however. I understand -- she's a young kid and it can be scary to have such a conversation. So...I asked her if she would mind if I talked with the coaches and she was OK with that.
The conversations were similar in tone. Both coaches were kind and supportive and made me feel good about the people leading the school's sports teams. BUT -- one coach was clear that my daughter had some natural talent and that she could see her making the team in the future. (It's just her first year after all.) The other coach had nice things to say but was as equally clear tha my daughter would need to start working now and continue regularly until next year's tryouts if she had a hope of making the team then.
I so appreciated this news. I did not share ALL of it with my daughter; for example, I didn't tell her about the one coach's observation that she could make it in the future. I didn't want her to feel like she was a shoo-in (which is NOT what the coach was saying) or to share that news with friends and then not make it and be devastatingly embarrassed.
What I emphasized is both cases to her is that she would need to really work at it. So much comes naturally to my daughter that I want her to learn this lesson for future challenges and having others say it is helpful. Now, I'm not expecting miracles, but here's hoping she eventually, by maybe age 30, gets the message!