Junior Varsity and Odds of Making the Team

Updated on February 19, 2016
S.H. asks from Santa Barbara, CA
17 answers

I went to a really small HS school and it seems like everyone would be able to participate on a team. Many Varsity teams were competitive and some VJ teams did well too at our school. It seem today making the JV team is not a sure thing (or it could be based on school size and popularity of the sport). Does anyone have current HS students who did not make a sports team they wanted. I am wondering if some do non school sports and join a rec league or are the rec leagues often more competitive? I know there are both, but do some kids just give up if they feel they are not good enough for JV?

I am thinking of baseball/softball, basketball and tennis.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son didn't make the baseball team last year - he was upset - he hadn't picked up a ball and bat in 2 years and expected his skills to be there still - it was a huge wake up call for him...

He has LAX try outs next week. He's been working out and practicing. If he doesn't make the team, I know he'll be upset as he was on travel teams in the fall.

If he doesn't make the HS team? He needs to keep his skills up and join the community team.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I went to a small public HS way back in the 80's where there were about 500 kids total in the school. No, not everyone made the teams of any sport.

It is disappointing, but it shows them they need to work harder to make the cut or to move on to something else.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

I was going to answer this in a practical manner and then I read your posts. Do not go forcing your kids to hate a sport so they get scholarships to college. That is kind of nuts. My daughter started in select soccer when she was six, she was one of the top goalies in our state for her age. Sure she made every team she tried out for but she loved soccer. If I forced her?

From what I have gathered from your other posts your kids don't like sports. What do they like, go with that.

By the way my daughter quit all sports her junior year and I was fine with that. I would rather have a happy child than live vicariously through them. She still got good academic scholarships, still finished college, still happy....

I really wonder about you looking at your small kids and wondering how to get them a full ride on sports when they don't like sports. Nothing wrong with academic scholarships.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on


Did you edit your question? Did you delete something regarding athletic scholarships?

I remember years ago, when my oldest son was about 8...we were talking about what e wanted to be when he grew up. He said a pro basketball/football player. I started to talk about how so very few people are really able to make a career at those things, and even if they did, often careers are short. So what else would he might enjoy doing?

He said he would be a rock star. LOL

This kid could not carry a tune in a bucket!!

All that said, I encouraged all my kids to be active. They were not among the best athletes around, but picked something they wanted to try, and stuck with it. Or, found something else they wanted to try! All four of my boys played football/baseball/basketball in HS. They were never 'starters'; but without exception, they each got sportsmanship awards at banquets. They had learned to be part of a team, and to be supportive of team members. I was (am) a proud mama!

That eldest son I spoke of is now an officer in the military. He was selected for special forces, and is completing training for that now. He got an ROTC scholarship for college (as did 2 of his siblings). The goal never really was to be a professional athlete, BUT the active participation IN sports without pressure allowed him (them) to learn some very valuable life lessons that have served him well.

All the kids participated in a wide variety of sports (as well as music, dance, theatre, community service) over the years. There was no 'end' game. It was a learning opportunity. And it was driven by THEIR interest alone.

I would back off a bit. I would follow your child's lead. The future will take care of itself.

Just my thoughts.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i only went to a US public high school for two years and my kids didn't go at all, so this is off distant memory. but my HS was huge. one of my brothers made the varsity football team, but it was super-competitive and really kind of a big deal that he did.
of course there were tons of kids who tried out and didn't make it. it's always nice when there are fun inclusive everyone-in leagues but there needs to be the competitive ones where the truly talented are showcased.
and yeah, that's the point where a lot of kids quit. that's not a negative. childhood is for trying things out, for rocking some activities for a while, for filing them in a different place when this point is reached.
both of my boys were really good at little league. generally made all-stars and so forth. but when it was time for pony league and the stakes were higher, they were suddenly very small frogs in very big ponds. and for the one who did make it in, the practices were much, much tougher and the entire attitude a lot less fun.
it's perfectly okay for a young person, even one with lots of aptitude, to decide to keep a beloved activity in the 'fun' category and stop doing it competitively. or replace it with something else altogether.
that's life, right? that's what they're in training for, ultimately.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My daughter is only in middle school but politics plays a lot into who makes the team who does not.

There are different levels of “rec” leagues and then there are competitive travel leagues. The more competitive the league the more it’s going to cost you and the more time you will need to invest. I would recommend that you don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Follow your kids’ interests and strengths and let everything flow from there.

If they tryout and don’t make the team it is a great lesson in dealing with disappointment. In our entitled society, parents are too busy trying to make sure all balls stay in the air so their kid never has to experience disappointment. Life isn’t fair so it’s a good lesson to learn early.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Almost every sport has a limited roster. Only X number of players are on a basketball team, Y number on baseball, Z number on football, etc. Those numbers are usually set by the league in which the school participates, although it could vary by state (I'm not sure).

In our high school, only a few sports are unlimited - cross country in the fall, indoor track/field in the winter, and spring track/field (outdoor). Some coaches in some schools may have tryouts and limit the participants, but ours very deliberately does not do that. Many events just run extra heats if there are a ton of kids - the more "elite" runners will be in the first heat, but often subsequent heats have the next few tiers of kids. There may be some events that have a qualifying time/distance, but there's usually something else where everyone can have a chance. Cross country works the same way - the less experienced or accomplished runners will be at the back of the pack, but they still run the same course. In our school, everyone (from state championship winners) to the next to the last kid, wait until the last kid crosses the finish line, cheering them across. In track, kids who aren't in a few events work as timers or other assistants - vital team members.

Some schools, if large enough, may have some club sports - but that will vary based on the availability of fields and courts. Rec leagues vary by town, and there are private travel leagues that can be very competitive. So it varies.

Your best bet is to talk to the athletic director to find out if there are orientation programs for new students and parents, or the rec department director or other staff member who supervises those teams.

ETA: I just read Julie S's response and went to check your other posts. I have to agree with her in asking why you are pursuing this. Your children aren't sporty, you say. So why do you care about high school sports? If this is about scholarships, forget it. This is NOT how your child is going to go to college, no matter how little money you have. Do not, DO NOT push them. If this is about having your kids be physically active in some way, for general health and non-competition, fine - find something totally recreational, or consider XC/track - where they only try to improve on their prior time, not beat others.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Of course not everyone makes the team, just like not everyone gets a part in the school play.
How on earth would that even work? There are only so many spots.
The only exception seems to be track and field, At my HS back in the 80's and now at my kids' HS anyone who wants to come out and run is welcome.
But track isn't limited by size, in fact it's made better for it, because the more runners they have the more likely they are to place, and win.
And yes there are rec teams and club teams and traveling teams. You want your kid to play, well they can play, if YOU PAY.
So dumb (in my opinion.)
If your kid really likes a sport but maybe isn't good enough to "make the team"" then s/he will do what my kids did, pick it up with their friends on the side. Meet up after school to play soccer or pickle ball or quidditch or whatever. Go skiing, hiking or surfing on the weekends. There are plenty of ways to stay active that don't involve teams.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It really depends on the school, which I know is of no help whatsoever. My kids go to a 1200 student high school. Some sports, such as boys' soccer or girls' basketball, are recent state champions and highly competitive at all levels. Other sports, such as hockey (which my son plays) are competitive in that we make playoffs every year and have led the league in recent years and made it to the state quarterfinals, but lack numbers. They always have enough players to make a full varsity team (22 skaters) but then usually only have 8 or 10 more players left over for JV. Some sports, such as cross-country, winter and spring track, and swim seem to be able to accommodate an endless number of participants. Other sports will have firm limits on the number of kids who can be on the roster for both the varsity and JV level and for those kids, they do participate in rec leagues and try again next year. My son plays rec hockey with some kids who don't play for their high school teams.

FWIW I went to a small private high school - 93 kids in my class - and sports were absurdly competitive there. Quite a few of my son's middle school hockey teammates went to private high schools and were disappointed to find that they didn't make the cut at their high schools. They definitely would have made the team - most likely varsity - at our high school. Some chose to go back to public school to play, others stayed in private school and played in private leagues.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Not every kid is cut out to be a team player.
We're just not a team sport oriented family.
I want our son to stay active, but there are SO MANY ways he can do this and not have to be on a team!
He's stayed with taekwondo for many years and still enjoys it.
If he no longer enjoys it, then it's time has passed and he can try something else.
HIS activity is (and should be) all about HIM and whether he enjoys it.
When the joy is gone - he is done.

Many kids who go out for team sports do train very hard - and often come away with injuries that follow them through life.
Any sport costs money - for gear and travel - and it can get expensive fast.

I wouldn't be holding my breath over sports scholarships.

The fraction of high school players that actually make it to pro level is very small.

Relax and take a look into Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Our HS even cuts kids that have auditioned for the school play. With over 1600 kids competing it is very competitive at our HS.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well recreational leagues are not competitive (not around here anyway).

My kids play on both, and also a competitive league outside of school.

So rec/house, competitive, and school team.

They had to try out for the school sports team. Mostly competitive players (from outside school teams) made it. My son was an exception. He made it also.

Rec leagues are wonderful, nice ways for kids to just have fun and do well and get better. Competitive teams have more practices, games, travel more, cost more, have more fundraising activities generally, etc. It's more of a commitment - time and money and of course, the kids. We have started being involved in competitive sports - there are different tiers or levels of course. That's what tryouts determine.

Rec leagues - no. Kids just tryout still (just so they can equally divide up teams so one is not stacked with best players) but all get in.

Hope that helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

High school sports are super competitive now. But so are the rec leagues where I live. The difference is travel and who can make the teams. Everyone can make the rec leagues, because they are supposed to be for fun. But the high school teams are by tryouts and the best make it.

My husband coaches the middle school basketball team where my kids go and we aren't sure if our now 5th grader will make the team next year or not. 6th graders don't make it often here, but he is really honestly good. We'll see though!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

This is my insight from a public high school employee (former athletic secretary). Coaches want coachable athletes. Athletes that will put in the hard work, be there at every practice, do all the off season conditioning, play an extra sport that will enhance the abilities that they need to improve for their favorite sport.

Now, I didn't say they will be the star player or even in the starting lineup if they do not posses the athleticism their sport requires. I've seen kids give everything they had and ride the pine, but they got their moments when the coaches saw the right time for them. Believe me, the coaches always want the win, but they will always want to develop the person, too.

I personally witnessed a kid who was destined for a starting Quarterback position be pushed to 2nd string by a kid two years his junior. The senior could've been a cancer to the team (and that was the card he was playing in spring ball). But, it took one game where the younger player broke dang near every sitting school record in a single game for senior boy to realize he needed to capitalize on any other position he could do and contribute. He ended up with multiple TD's, game changing defensive plays and the respect from every coach and teammate. It wasn't the role he wanted to play, but his ethics and effort made it a pretty darn rewarding experience.

So no, not every kid is a varsity level player. But, every kid with drive and desire CAN be a varsity level team player. That is also a very dang important lesson for life. You can sell cars, but that doesn't mean you are one of the best 20 car salesman in your zip code. Work hard and yes, you could be. That's the lesson.

As a standard rule of thumb, coaches will put the best players on their team, regardless of their grade/age. But seniors do get special consideration almost across the board. If you don't tryout for the team, do the work, be at practice, etc. then Varsity may not be in your future. Point is, it would be a bigger regret to NOT try than it would be to have tried and not mad the team. (I didn't say fail, because giving your best is never a failure in my book.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

Sports have gotten very competitive. I would say there is no guarantee, especially at larger schools, of making the team. Most kids start playing sports around age 4 or 5. If a student wanted to play in high school for the first time, I don't think they'd have much of a chance of making the team. I know travel teams are popular (baseball, soccer, basketball), but you have to try out for those, too.

When my son was 8 he wanted to play soccer. We signed up for city league (U-10 team). Those kids were waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of his league!! They all started at age 3 or 4 (and some of the kids were almost 10). It's kinda sad that you can't really take up a sport competitively in late elementary or middle school anymore.



answers from Denver on

It is so complicated to play sports now, right!! To start, a lot of high schools (probably most) have an athletics page on their website that will spell out how they work things. Things vary from school to school - and even within schools. My daughter's high school does different things for different sports. She plays softball, they have V and JV- but her freshman year they had so many girls and try to be 'no cut' so they actually added a freshman team. Basketball (girls) did the same and added a sophomore team, too. Boys baseball is just V and JV, and do cuts. Her school is very well known for girls soccer (one year every girl on the team landed a D1 scholarship which is unheard of, and one girl now is headed to the Olympics). All I'll say is that I'm glad my kid doesn't play girls soccer. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make that team. So many people with kids who they are sure are the best are trying to get into the school so their kid can do the same. It's nuts. So people who have kids who really want to play but aren't amazing are actually opting for different schools because they want no part of this craziness! So every school is different- check their website for each sports, they usually will tell you the set up.

Most kids that we know who play on the high school team also play competitive. Around here, rec is just that- for fun. Competitive is expensive and usually involves travel. But I will say that by high school, I think most kids sort of have their niche and know where they fit into their sport as long as the parents recognize and support their interest and ability. Plenty of girls who played rec softball with us ended up staying in rec. They didn't want to go the competitive route and weren't worried about or interested in scholarships and all the craziness, they just wanted to play for fun. Others have gone the other direction and it's ALL they do- if you ask "how is Holly doing in school" their answer only involves softball. It gets really hard to keep sports kids well rounded. I actually hate it. But as long as my daughter likes it, I'll support it.

To answer your other question, I have known many kids who tried out for whichever team and didn't make it. It's common enough that it isn't usually devastating (unless mom and dad have put too much pressure). They are disappointed and either move down a level or find something else. It sounds like you are checking things out so your kids aren't setting themselves up for failure, so that's awesome. If you go in with reasonable expectations and they know that they will be ok no matter what happens, you will all be fine! You're doing great to support your kids- good luck!



answers from Oklahoma City on

There is a small window of time for kids to play sports. IF their elementary schools have teams for their grades then most of them will have 4th, 5th grade teams. Private schools and smaller schools might go through 6th and even 7th grade. They don't play teams from the public schools though because they are in elementary sports brackets.

Those kids that come in to junior high/middle school and want to play a sport are going against every other kid that was playing the year before. If there are 8 elementary schools and they each had a 5th grade team with 10 kids on it....that's 50 kids, at least, vying for those 15 or so spots on that junior high/middle school team. So no, they're not all going to make it. Only 1 or 2 kids from each team has any expectation of even getting on the new 6th grade team. SO there will be a natural break for those kids that will eliminate sports other than the ones they sign up for in the community, like soccer at the soccer complex.

Our kids in our little town are big on one sport. Both girls and boys. When the elementary grades are in their season the parks and rec start their sign up. So the school team coaches all go and get their teams registered, new teams form too. Then they go play those games on the weekend and sometimes have end of season games during the week for the school league. It is a fun time for that couple of weeks. Games, games, games.

Then while the rec league is playing many teams will host a tournament at their school too. So they have a long busy playing season, they start practicing in the fall and are still playing into March. Same with softball/baseball. They start practicing as soon as it's warm enough and they'll still be able to find tournaments and games throughout summer.

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