Spring sport tryouts bring stress to both athletes and coaches

By Carson K

Spring sports are just around the corner and student athletes everywhere are gearing up for the season. Walled Lake Central offers a wide variety of spring sports including baseball, lacrosse, golf, track and field, and softball as well as a few other spring season girls sports such as soccer, water polo and tennis.

Alongside the start of the new seasons also comes the start and finish of spring sports tryouts, which can be a particularly stressful time for most athletes. In fact, most student athletes report being stressed during tryouts and at the beginning of the season. However, coaches and trainers everywhere say that stress is normal and that it allows many athletes to perform to the best of their abilities in games and practice.

From personal experience and conversations with other Walled Lake Central and Michigan athletes, the general feeling is that stress in tryout situations is almost never helpful and in some cases can be debilitating. Sophomore Gavin Jascoe agreed, reflecting on his experiences at Walled Lake Central lacrosse tryouts, “Although lacrosse is a no-cut sport, the whole ordeal of trying out is one of the most stressful things. When you’re trying out you’re not just fighting for your spot on the field, but you’re also trying to suppress the thought in the back of your head that tells you, ‘If I mess up here it will be all over’. All in all when this pressure gets to me, things go downhill and it’s just a terrible feeling.”

Despite the pressure of making a team and filling a position, the likely most stressful aspect of tryouts is the fear of being cut and the repercussions it may have on a young athlete. The humiliation and disappointment that players face after being turned away from a sport often serves as a deterrent for athletes trying out in the future.

For this same reason, tryouts are equally as stressful for coaches as the players they cut are likely to not return to the team or the sport altogether. Last year’s freshman baseball coach at Walled Lake Central, Brian Savage said that in some instances, tryouts can be hold much larger consequences than what’s seen on the surface. “It’s a really hard decision to potentially end someone’s baseball career. As much as we promote kids trying out next year the chances are that the kids you cut won’t return. It can be especially devastating to a kid that has played the sport before and has poured their time into bettering themselves at their position and ends up not making the team.”

According to Ray and Wiese-Bjornstal, two experts in the field of Sports medicine, most athletes experience biological and physiological stress which holds a series of side effects unfavorable to athletes. These symptoms include muscle tension, increased heart rate, indigestion, stomach spasms, pain and headaches. However the most detrimental to an athlete’s performance in a high stakes situation such as tryouts are the cognitive effects on the player, which include frustration, worries, distortion, exaggeration, unrealistic performance expectations, self-defeating statements and self handicapping. This relation between the mind of an athlete and their physical performance shows the intense amount of pressure these players undergo in stressful situations. Such drastic effects often result from the athletes fear of failure or disappointment and if gone untreated or alleviated can eventually progress into certain forms of anxiety.

Despite all the stress and worrying, the turn of spring marks a new season for Walled Lake Central athletics and a chance to start fresh. Sophomore golfer Aidan Parrott said that the beginning of the season is his favorite time of year. “It’s a great opportunity to really focus on your individual skills because as the games and schedules become progressively more intense you get less time to focus on yourself, and all practices become more about the team’s performance. The start of the new season is a great opportunity to make new friends and enjoy your sport in its purest form.”

Whether you are a participant in this years Walled Lake Central spring athletics or a fan of one of the teams, the end of the spring tryout season is coming to a close and with it presents a unique opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of extracurricular activities.