Cutting a Player from your Team

Holding the position of being a Basketball Coach can be one of the greatest experiences an individual can have, but Cutting a player from your team is not a pleasant process. Coaches both at the junior and senior levels of sport all have to undertake the activity of cutting players at one time or another. In all age groups across all levels of the sport of basketball, the associated task of cutting a player has stark consequences for the coach, team, and player(s) leaving the group.


There are of course some ways in which this situation can be managed to provide the most professional and respectful manner with regards to all the players and individuals in general involved. Coaches are encouraged to have other individuals assist in the selection process that are not connected to any of the players trying out. This will hopefully provide some sort of objective rather than emotive input for a coach to consider during the selection process and subsequent cutting of players.


Do not feel pressured by time when making a selection, it is far better to be happy with your decision then to just have it done with (Photo Source: William Warby)
Do not feel pressured by time when making a selection, it is far better to be happy with your decision then to just have it done with (Photo Source: William Warby)

The first step for any coach is to have a pre-defined process that the selection and ensuing cutting of players will follow. In these situations many small things which have the potential to cause issues later can be overlooked even by the most experience coach if not planned out in advance. Taking the time to discuss how many training sessions it will be before a coach makes the first cut, when will the second cut happen and so on, are important to define. These plans can always be changed if circumstances dictate, but to not plan at all only increases the chance of issues happening.


Next, a coach should look to define what they are looking for in the players involved in the selection process. While it can be challenging to list everything required, this will help later on in making decisions on who is to stay and who must go as well as providing feedback to those players you will be cutting. A simple tool might be constructed which highlights some of the core skill areas and space provided for comments to players across these areas.


During the selection process always be professional. The players on court in most cases will be working as hard as they possibly can to impress a coach and so too will the parents of these players if a junior team be looking at the image being portrayed of the people involved in the sessions. If you are involved in the selection process, make notes and ensure you view as many players as possible. Make sure you display interest in what is happening and how the process of the event is being conducted.


Some coaches choose not to cut players immediately after a session, instead leaving this activity until later so they have time to consider their notes and thoughts on the matter. Some coaches will after discussing with the other people involved in the activity, announce to the players which of them have made it through to the next stage of the selection process and which players they will be cutting. There is no wrong or right answer in regards to this process and both methods have advantages and disadvantages.


The important point following the announcement of these players a coach is cutting is that these players can receive some feedback on where they can improve and continue to develop to the level they have tried out for. For some players the journey to reach final selection for a team is a long process and one, which will have many ups and downs. A coaches role however must be to provide guidance to all players, even those under their direction for the shortest of time and this certainly includes players who have been cut.


It is advised during these discussions to have a second party involved so that any points of contention can be verified if needed later on by the third party. Because in these situations you are often discussing a players future (which is highly important no matter the level or age) there can be emotional responses during the discussion. Again as a part of your role as a coach you need to be the more controlled and display a professional manner in these discussions.


Finally just because the cutting of player has resulted in them not being able to take part in the selection process any further. This does not mean they still cannot be utilise in some capacity within the team. Some players will be able to fill train-on roles or fill management and administration roles around supporting a team. Just because a player does not fit in the role of a player, this does not mean they cannot find a place in another aspect of the team’s operations.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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