Helping Our Children Navigate Setbacks

I overslept this morning.  The report due to my boss today is missing. My flight home got cancelled.  I didn’t hit my quota this month. The promotion at work went to the other person.  The dishwasher leaked water all over the kitchen.  I wrecked the car last night.  My company announced they are downsizing.

We all suffer setbacks in life.  Some small and easy to manage.  Some large and more life changing. Our children are not immune to setbacks either.

  • Missing the bus
  • Not getting a good score on the math test
  • Not getting invited to THE party
  • Failing the driver’s test

And if they play in a sport, they will likely suffer setbacks there as well…

  • Not having a good practice, or not being able to perform a desired move
  • Missing the game winning shot
  • Losing the big game/race, or not even being in the big game/race
  • Not making the desired team, or not making a team at all

This last one is timely, given many have just left the Tryout/Team Formation portion of the club calendar and our older players are just beginning HS preseason and will be coming up on tryouts for those teams.

So, how do we help them navigate and persevere through the ups-and-downs of soccer.  Note the action is NAVIGATE, not AVOID.  Like us, our children are going to suffer setbacks in their journey, whether we are ready for it or not.  Here are five key actions that may assist you in being ready to successfully manage a setback.

  1. STAY CALM-regardless of the situation, be composed, and do not overreact, and remember it is about them not you. Distressed facial expressions, tone of voice and language can make things worse for our child.
  2. LISTEN AND EMPHASIZE– allow your child to tell their story. Let them share thoughts and feelings and acknowledge them. Do not diminish their feelings or concerns with “It’s no big deal.” “Don’t worry about it” or other attempts to make them feel better.
  3. ENCOURAGE THEM– remind them that this setback does not define them. Who they are is more than this one setback. Congratulate them on their efforts and their willingness to risk failing.
  4. FIND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES– when they are ready, talk with them about what they can learn from this. Encourage them to focus on themselves and discourage BLAMING others (coach, teammates, weather, etc.) for the setback.
      • Focus on process (skills, effort, attitude, etc.) not outcomes (goals, wins, etc.)
      • Focus on mental and emotional approaches to setbacks.
      • How can they reset themselves to allow for success?
      • What future efforts would they like to make?
  1. SUGGEST SOMETHING FUN TO DO– it may be beneficial to engage in a fun activity “Do you want to get some ice cream?”, “I think your favorite movie is playing now”, “Let’s go get some lunch!” in order to provide an outlet for your child to remove themselves from the negative feelings they are having.

Another aspect of Setbacks/Failures which is often forgotten when athlete faces a SETBACK, is the path to success or growth. It is easy to assume that an athlete who initially has success will always continue along a straight, and upward path. However, the actual path most athletes follow is far less simple. Often it is more like a roller coaster.  Failure is a key component of learning, problem-solving, and eventual success.  In addition, variances in growth (physical, emotional, social, and cognitive) among athletes is also occurring and is going to result in variable development patterns.  These variances may also be a part of current or future setbacks, i.e., no longer the strongest, the fastest, the fittest, etc.  This graphic from Beastmode Soccer is an excellent depiction of the Expected vs Realistic trajectory of success.

Finally, here are two of my favorite quotes regarding setbacks come from noted athletes:

  • “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm
  • “You will miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Hopefully following the 5 steps provided above will assist you to continue in supporting your child’s efforts and goals and provide them and yourself the opportunity to relax as you move through the ups and downs of their development.

Best of Luck!


Here are several articles or videos which address how to help our children deal with setbacks.

Other motivational quotes can be found at: Sports Feel Good Stories-Quotes to Motivate and Inspire

Tryout FAQ’s

How do I register for tryouts?
ALL soccer-athletes MUST COMPLETE the tryout registration online before participating in the tryout process. Click here to register now!

*Please make sure that you register online at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that the soccer athlete is in the system and we have your information to notify you after the tryout process.  There is a Registration Steps document on the Tryouts page that will walk you through the process. Each soccer athlete should attend both tryout days if possible. If you are unable to attend both days please reach out to the Program Director listed below.

Birth Years for the 2022/2023 Season
For the 2022/2023 season, Kings Hammer will follow U.S Youth Soccer’s guidelines and will organize its teams by birth year:

*Interested players must register to try out for their birth year.

Can my child play up an age group?
Any player playing up will be at the discretion of their respective director. All players need to register and attend the tryout for their correct age group.

What should I wear/bring to tryouts?
Please come prepared with a fully inflated soccer ball, proper footwear, shin guards, and water. Each prospective soccer-athlete will receive one free Kings Hammer Soccer Club tryout t-shirt with a tryout identification number on the back of the t-shirt.  Each prospective player will be identified by the identification number throughout the process and MUST wear this t-shirt at each tryout session for the 2022/2023 soccer year.

We will not be able to attend tryouts or are new to the area and missed tryouts. Is there a process in place to allow for an alternate tryout?
Yes! If you are not able to attend tryouts or missed the tryout dates, please register and then contact the Director for the Program/Age Group you wish to tryout for so that arrangements can be made. We also hold supplemental tryouts throughout the year. Roster openings may be limited after the initial tryout period.

What are the differences between Academy and Premier?
Our Academy provides a highly competitive environment for higher-level soccer athletes. This program provides those athletes with the best local training offered by our qualified and professional staff. Our Academy teams play at the highest possible level providing showcase opportunities to College, Professional, and National level programs.

The Premier Program is a community-based program. The Premier Program provides the opportunity for players to play other sports or have other interests outside of soccer. This program is designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

Can I try out for multiple programs?
We encourage anyone who wants to tryout for all levels to do so. Current KHSC players can ask their coach/director for guidance if they are unsure about which program to tryout for. You will need to register for each tryout separately.

If I tryout for a program and don’t make it, can I try out for another program?
Yes. If you don’t make an Academy team, we strongly encourage you to tryout for a Premier team, attending tryouts for at least one day.

If you don’t make a Premier team, the Classic Program may be an option. Contact Michelle Okumura ( if you’d like to pursue this option.

Will there be more than one team in each age group?
Yes, when possible, there will be more than one team per age group, per program. It all depends on the number of players at tryouts and their skill level.

If my child doesn’t make the top team, can they move up during the year?
Yes, there may be opportunities to move up throughout the year as long as the coach/director feels it is in the best interest of the player’s development. There may also be opportunities to guest play across all levels.

What can I expect after tryouts?
After tryouts you can expect communication from the club in the form of an email.  (Please double-check that your email is correct in the PlayMetrics system, this is the email we use) This will either be an acceptance email, offering your child a position on a team, or an email letting you know that they should tryout for a different program. Players who are offered positions on a team may also receive a phone call from their coach. All communication will come within 24-48 hours of the end of the last tryout. You will then have 24 hours to either accept or decline your email before your spot is offered to another child.

What are the next steps if my child makes a team?

  1. If you are new to the club, you will receive more information regarding your uniform ordering in your confirmation email.
  2. If you are part of the Academy or Premier Programs, you will receive the link to Demosphere to register your child in the state system in your confirmation email as well.

How long is the season?

  • Academy
    • U11-U14: August-November, January-May (possible post-season in June)
    • U15-U19: November-May
  • Premier
    • U7-U14: August-October, March-May
    • U15-U19: November-December, March-May

My child is in middle school but plays on a U15 team. Will there be a fall U15 program for trapped players?
Yes, we will offer a program for trapped 8th graders for the fall season depending on interest. The program will run from August to October and is open to players that are currently in the 8th grade that will be playing on a U15 team starting in November 2022. Questions please contact:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley  |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |

Can a team come to the club and join as a team?
Yes! The team can join the Classic Program. For more information please reach out to Michelle Okumura at

Who is in charge of hiring coaches?
If you are interested in a coaching opportunity, please fill out the following coaching form –

Program Directors:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |
Premier Xenia: Brent Lewis |
Premier North: Wil Cagle |
Premier Sycamore: Ryan Handbury |
Premier Central: Michael Ratliff |
Premier South: David Shemilt |
Premier Versailles: Brandon Cummons |
Premier Lexington: Fonyam Atanga |