Friends but no longer teammates. Awkward or not?

Soccer Friends

It’s been a long grueling tryout process but it’s finally over. The list has been posted and congratulations, your player made the team. But her best buddy didn’t. Bummer, that’s so sad. And wow! Really awkward. So how do you handle it? Here are some things to do, and not to do.


Express your disappointment. Yes, everyone’s bummed out but there’s no need to get maudlin about it. Something along the lines of “Sorry our kids won’t be playing together this season. The girls have such fun and we have to make sure they still see each other.”

Help your player understand. Some kids are very empathetic and will be very sad for their friend and themselves. And other kids will be all “Yayy me!” and not stop to think that their friend is probably upset about getting cut and will have a hard time sharing in the joy. So help them look at from both view points and explain that everyone can still be friends, even if they aren’t on the same team.

Let your friends vent. As happy as you are with the outcome, your friend may feel the selection was unfair, or there were politics involved or the coach is a moron for not taking little Megan. Don’t argue about it, just let your friend vent.

Arrange for some non-sport play dates. Do some of the things they both enjoy takes that whole weird uncomfortable sports dynamic out of the equation. Go to a children’s museum, enjoy a movie, just hang out and play. It’s good for kids to develop relationships based on more than who is their current linemate.

Sign up for a camp or clinic. So they can’t play on the same team, but they can still play their beloved sport together. Camps take away the game and tryout pressure and let kids just have fun.

See your friend play. Find a game when you can go watch your friend on her new team. Cheer hard and go out for ice cream after the game, just like you always did.


Avoid them. The sports world is small and chances are really good your friends will make another team and you’ll run into them all the time. At some point, you’ll probably end up on the same team again so overcome any uncomfortable feelings you may have now and greet them like you always do. It won’t get easier and then they’ll feel like you were avoiding them for the last five years.

Diss the other kid. Maybe your little friend didn’t have the stuff to make the team but there’s no need to point that out. Even if you are feeling a little smug about the fact that your kid has mad skillz, just leave it up to the coach to explain why.

Keep bringing it up. Address it once with the parents and your kid then let it go. Maybe your little friend is happier on her new team. Rehashing the indignity of the whole thing isn’t going to help so just move on.

Yes, it’s a little disappointing and can be uncomfortable to be in this position. But many of life’s situations are like this so, hey, what a great learning experience for everybody. It’s up to you to set the tone. The kids will watch to see how you handle it so stay supportive, acknowledge the feelings and work to make sure you follow through with play dates and other opportunities to get together. As Buzz and Woody have demonstrated, friends are friends.

Readers, have you ever encountered this situation? What did you do? Please share your tips in the comments.

8 Comments on “Friends but no longer teammates. Awkward or not?”

  1. pat coutts says:

    FIRST thing I would probably do is check my fly!

  2. Blogbrarian says:

    I just dealt with this during the spring hockey season. I totally agree with not avoiding the family or continuing to bring the situation up. It’s definitely a tough one but I think it’s all about how you handle it. It’s also a good learning opportunity for life lessons in general.

    • Thanks for the comment, Blogbrarian. I have been on both sides of the situation and while it can be weird and unpleasant, you just need to deal with it and move on.

  3. Jodi Murphy says:

    I think going to cheer your friend on is a great idea! Friends are supposed to support each other so why not show up for a few innings or in the second half? It’s always nice to see a smiling face in the stands.

  4. wendymt2 says:

    Thanks for this great article. I just found your site. My daughter plays volleyball, but these situations occur in all sports. The suggestions you share are really helpful and I appreciate your advice. It’s true, we are all learning life lessons in these types of situations. I’d like to guide my daughter to be empathetic and a good friend.

    • Thanks for visiting, Wendy. I don’t have any volleyball players but know plenty, and you are right: these situations happen in all sports, and in life in general. Good luck to your daughter.

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