Missing The Cut: 4th Grade Club Soccer Disappointment

When Your Kid Doesn’t Make the Team

Today was a tough day. My 4th grade daughter, PickyKidPix, has been on pins and needles all week waiting to find out if she made the new Club Soccer Team for our town. She didn’t. She made the wait list which is not bad because strangely, her grade district wide has produced an exceptional number of really excellent 4th grade girl soccer players. This still meant that I found her at 10:41 p.m. sobbing her heart out. Ouch! Not to mention that her bedtime is 9:00 and it is a school day tomorrow.

Life is full of disappointments and her problem is that she is teeny, tiny like me. Most of her peers have 50% more weight on them and at least 12+ inches. At this age, it means they kick harder yet also have the same foot skills and speed that she does. And some of her peers, including some of her friends, are better at this age.

So we had a little pep talk. She discounts anything I say in general because: 1) I am her mom, 2) she is the rebellious middle child, and 3) I don’t play soccer. But the pep talk went like this:

Me: If you want to make the team next year, you just have to get better than everyone else. You will have to work harder than everyone else to develop better foot skills because you are at a size disadvantage which is my fault because you are small like me.

Her (sobbing): But everyone else will improve too because they will play more than me. It’s not your fault Mommy.

Me: You just have to get better. Let’s come up with a plan. Are you willing to work harder if I will hire a coach to help you?

Her (very determined and now blowing her nose loudly): YES!

Our mantra is our favorite player Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world. He plays for Barça and is a wonderful role model: modest, polite, and incredibly talented. We have made 3 attempts to watch him play. We flew to DC to watch a friendly but he didn’t play in that game. We went to Barcelona to catch a game. We missed the game by one day (we had to book our trip long before the game schedule came out plus we had to work around school vacation time). But we have tickets to a game in New Jersey (4 hours by car) to watch him. He’s supposed to play unless he’s injured. He’s healthy right now. Fingers crossed!

Messi is also small for a professional soccer player as are most of the Barcelona team. Their mantra is skill over size and this has been a winning formula but I suspect that it helps when your team is similar in size and strategy like the Japanese women’s team that won the World Cup.

This is a video of a kid who is perhaps like Lionel Messi at age 6 with amazing technical skills. He demonstrates the drills he practices.

Our task is pretty straight forward: PickyKidPix just needs to improve and learning some of these foot skills will help. She’s 10 now (only just) and let’s see what a difference a year makes!

I think this is a good life lesson. There will always be disappointments in life but how you react AFTER is actually more important than BEFORE. Do you pick yourself up? Do you give up? Do you have the stamina to work towards a long-term goal? Is this motivating? Do you have that steely resolve? A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. (That’s from our karate school).

Watch this video. Sheesh, this kid is good! I’ve ordered some cones and a small soccer net.

p.s. She has two tryouts for another club team next week. Please wish her luck!

Ok, let’s go!

p.p.s. This is the book that I’ll hand to my daughter to help her realize that she’s not alone in worrying about making the cut. It’s a great soccer book for fourth grade through sixth grade. Any kid — boy or girl — who stresses about soccer tryouts and making the cut will enjoy reading this excellent chapter book.

Books for Kids to Read on Soccer and Making the Cut

Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson

Ari Fish believes in two things: his hero-Wayne Timcoe, the greatest soccer goalie to ever come out of Somerset Valley-and luck. So when Ari finds a rare and valuable Wayne Timcoe trading card, he’s sure his luck has changed for the better. Especially when he’s picked to be the starting goalie on his team. But when the card is stolen-and his best friend and the new girl on the team accuse each other of taking it-suddenly Ari can’t save a goal, everyone is fighting, and he doesn’t know who, or what, to believe in.

Before the team falls apart, Ari must learn how to make his own luck, and figure out what it truly means to be a hero.

I found a few more soccer chapter books as well:

Million Dollar Kick by Dan Gutman

Whisper Nelson hates sports–all sports–with a passion! So when by a fluke she wins a chance to kick a goal past a professional soccer star for a million-dollar prize, she is torn. Should she try it and risk humiliation, or just forget the whole thing and save what dignity she has left? But the Million Dollar Kick might be Whisper’s big chance not only to win a million dollars, but to regain confidence in herself. [beginning chapter book for ages 8 and up]
Pelé, King of Soccer/Pelé, El rey del futbol by Monica Brown

Do you know how a poor boy from Brazil who loved fútbol more than anything else became the biggest soccer star the world has ever known? Turn the pages of this book to read the true life story of Pelé, King of Soccer, the first man in the history of the sport to score a thousand goals and become a living legend. Rudy Gutiérrez’s dynamic illustrations make award-winning author Monica Brown’s story of this remarkable sports hero truly come alive!

¿Sabes cómo un niño brasileño pobre que amaba el fútbol más que nada en el mundo se convirtió en la estrella más importante del deporte? Lee este relato y entérate de la historia de Pelé, El rey del fútbol; el primer hombre en la historia del deporte capaz de marcar mil goles y convertirse en una leyenda viva. Las dinámicas ilustraciones de Rudy Gutiérrez destacan vívidamente los momentos recreados por la escritora premiada Mónica Brown en este extraordinario libro.

Soccer Hero (Matt Christopher) by Stephanie True Peters

Rob Lasher is just an ordinary soccer player, good at the game, but not great. Then one afternoon, he saves his coach’s life in front of all his teammates. Suddenly, he’s the team’s hero. As some members of his team and the rest of the town continue to laud Rob’s heroic act, Rob realizes he doesn’t want the attention and any unearned accolades that come with it. Kids will learn that doing what is right should be the norm, not the exception. [beginning chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Mia Hamm: On the Field with… (Matt Christopher Sports Bio Bookshelf) by Matt Christopher

Women’s soccer has never been more popular. At the top of the sport’s list of star players is Mia Hamm. Her speed, aggressive play, and ability to “read the field” have sparked every team she’s ever played on. At the University of North Carolina, she helped the Tar Heels capture four NCAA championships. Her continually stellar performances with the United States national team led them to win two out of three Women’s World Cups, first in 1991 and again in 1999. And as a member of the 1996 gold medal-winning Olympic team, she played an outstanding final game on a sprained ankle. The holder of the world record for most goals scored in a career, she is the hero of thousands of soccer fans worldwide. Readers will devour every detail of this insightful biography of the best women’s soccer player in the world. [beginning chapter book, ages 8 and up]

To order cones, soccer nets or chapter book for your player, please click on image.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Lonna

    Good luck Messi! Kick their soccer butts next year! You can do it!
    Lonna recently posted…Our Second Honeymoon & Further Evidence of My Mid-life CrisisMy Profile

    • Hi Lonna,
      I’ll tell my little Messi-to-be that you shared your well wishes for her. Good news! She made the other club team! Now let’s see if she improves enough to make the cut next year!

  2. Ann

    So disappointing! You and an awesome mom though! This one should be called “what to do if” your child misses the cut!
    Ann recently posted…Klutz Activity Book Giveaway!My Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks so much! She is feeling better because she did end up making that other club team. Now let’s see if she really works hard all year to improve enough to make the team next year. I am curious to see if this experience changes and motivates her. She’s never really had to face rejection before and things have come pretty easily for her in general though she is a fiercely competitive kid who is quite hard on herself.

  3. Darin Spears

    I sincerely hope that this time you will get to Messi playing, We all would be delighted to know about your little girls reaction when she actually sees him.
    Darin Spears recently posted…Why has the average software engineering salary increased in the past couple of years and will it continue to rise?My Profile

    • Hi Darin,
      We DID! And it was a really exciting game. I’m posting on that in a week or so. PickyKidPix was thrilled to watch him but she was fully recovered and beaming from ear to ear (a high that lasted for several days) when she made the second team for the other club team. The coach called her and talked to her saying that she thought PickyKidPix was a great player with great technical ability and that she was so excited to coach her to make her better. And that the B team was going to be made up of girls who were talented but smaller in size than the A team. Words like balm to her soul.

      I also bought the soccer net, cones and 6 soccer balls of various sizes for my 3 kids and they are playing around with the ball more in our (tiny) backyard. I think the net helped the most and just having balls lying around in the basement and backyard.

      PickyKidPix, however, refused to watch more than 1 minute of the video and claims that juggling the soccer ball is not related to soccer. She does have a mind of her own.

  4. Congrats to PickyKidPix–it’s great that she found the right playing situation. At that age, honestly, what kids need are playing time, touches, and to keep the game FUN. Getting knocked down by bigger kids makes it tough to grow as a player. You might want to let PickyKidPix know that a lot happens in the years between u10 and u18, and the kids that are successful are the ones who keep plugging along and enjoying the game. It’s a marathon, really. (And between us, I’m with her on the juggling thing…but I won’t tell:))
    Steven Stickler recently posted…Cool Secret Codes for Kids: The Mix-O-MaticMy Profile

    • Hi Steven,
      Thank you so much and I’ll be sure to let PickyKidPix know that you left such a kind comment and that you agree with her on juggling. You clearly know a lot about soccer. Another mom at school who played for Dartmouth and whose daughter is now a serious high school competitor looking at Division I schools said that same thing; that it’s a marathon and more about who keeps at it.

      So, I’ll be sure to tell PickyKidPix know about this new game her little brother and I invented when she was away. We call it soccer tennis. You (ie me in sandals) defend the tiny net with a tennis racket while the other person tries to score on you with a soccer ball. Surprisingly fun and keeps your sandaled foot from being injured. I’ll bet she will like that more than juggling exercises.

      I am just glad that there is bounce in her step again. It was soo hard for me to see her destroyed and crying into her pillow for 2 hours … I mean the pillow was sodden and I’ve never seen her before this heart-broken. I’m sure there will be more of this from all my kids as they grow up but that is tough to see as a parent.

  5. Soccer tennis sounds fun!

    I agree–a tough thing for a parent any time something takes the bounce out of a kid’s step. Glad she has it back!
    Steven Stickler recently posted…Cool Secret Codes for Kids: The Mix-O-MaticMy Profile

  6. Capability

    So glad she has you as a mom – great pep talk. It is so hard when they first don’t get something they want and have worked hard at – I agree it is how you deal with it after. To PickyKidPix – Have fun playing soccer – glad you love this fun game!
    Capability recently posted…How to Keep Cool…My Profile

    • Hi Capability:Mom,
      She is so excited to make the other club soccer team. Hopefully that will work out and be a good experience for her, especially the improving part, which is really important to her. And I hope she makes new friends there too. Thanks for your well wishes. Boy, tough issues. I wish they could be delayed until she was in middle school.

  7. Wandered over here from a twitter link by Artchoo. I have two girls and both play competitive soccer. What a world! I had no idea such an intense environment existed so young. I will have to check out the books you recommend. Thank you.
    Laura recently posted…Tween magazine reviews: SeventeenMy Profile

    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you! It could just be the world/town we live in. Apparently our town produces some great soccer players and has for decades but that is because we parents invest a lot of time and energy (and $) to develop our kids skills. We are the poster town for A Race to Nowhere. Still, I think U.S. soccer has improved relative to the rest of the world because kids are starting younger and getting better coaching than when I was a kid.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Dad Book Teaches Kids Handy Skills: 3 Signed BOOK GIVEAWAY!My Profile

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