As a parent you want the best for your kid in sports, in school and in life. You want them to succeed and fulfill their potential at everything they do. To help them get to the highest levels of any endeavor, you work with them or you find coaches, teachers or mentors to help them, you encourage them when they have doubts about their abilities and you nudge them when the fear of failure is holding them back. An aware parent also has to recognize when not too push.
Last night, my son, Nic, went to basketball tryouts for his school's 8th grade team. He has played on the A team for the last two years, but he had no intentions of playing for the A team this year. And I had no intentions of pushing him.
Flashback: At the end of the 6th grade regular season and throughout the 6th grade playoffs, Nic's scrappy play earned him a spot on the starting five of the A team. It was a result of pure determination and hard work and he was so proud of himself. Still, when 7th grade tryouts came around his heart told him to jump to the B team and have fun. His head and pride (and maybe my pride) told him to play on the A team again, so he accepted a position on the A team again.
During the 7th grade season, Nic was not an A team starter anymore. He was relegated to a somewhat limited backup role. He and I both understood this because my son doesn't even pick up a basketball during golf and baseball seasons while others work had hard in the off season to improve and advance.
The coach did love Nic's intensity and quickness on defense, but he didn't have a role for Nic on the offensive side of the court. My son didn't exactly relish his limited role or the intensity of the hard-nosed coach who wouldn't let him wear his headband so after enduring a long miserable season he decided that the B team would be the best option for him.
After the season he said "I've decided to take my talents to the South B team. On the B team I will be a featured player, I will handle the ball more and I will be allowed to wear my NBA swag."
As it turned my son was not the only A team player to opt for the B team. Only 7 of the 9 original A team players decided to return. Two perennial B teamers had high hopes to make the A team but did not make the cut. The A team will make a run with only 7 players.
The Main Point
Parents get a certain amount of pride by saying that their kid play on the A team. As such many parents push their kids to reach for the top teams in the top leagues. The A team, however, might not be the best player development situation for the kid.
My son is deciding between two high schools for next year. One school is big and wins State Championships, the other school is smaller. He has very little chance of making the basketball team for the big school (unless of course he grows 10 inches), but he has an outside chance of making the squad of the smaller school. He will increase his chances if he improves his ball handling skills. He wouldn't improve his ball handling skills as a role player on the A team, but he will gain valuable experience handling the ball in game situations on the B team.