COACHES' TIPS FOR SOCCER TRYOUTS
(Active Alex 3/2012 - Full Article)
By Kip Coons
Come spring, the most pressure-packed time of the soccer season will be upon us. No, not State Cup, or showcase tournaments, or even league playoffs. It’s the tryout season.
Every spring, youth soccer teams – Classic- and Challenge-level U11-U19 teams select their rosters. Unlike recreational teams that don’t cut players, this level conducts tryouts to set their rosters for the coming year which follows the school calendar (fall-winter-spring). Depending upon the age group, teams keep from 12 to 22 players on their rosters. Once a player signs with a team, the player is committed to the team for the next year of competition, and vice versa.
Earning a roster spot on a high-level soccer team can be a major competition in itself. It’s not uncommon for dozens of players to try out for a handful of roster slots, especially for the highest-level Classic teams. The evaluation, including scrimmage play, might be conducted by one coach or a committee of coaches, because larger clubs might field multiple teams in a particular age group. Many clubs also conduct tryouts for their developmental league teams for the younger age groups.
“Tryouts are always quite a nerve-wracking, pressure situation,” said Sam Stockley, the director of coaching at XL Soccer World
, an indoor facility in Raleigh that also offers indoor and outdoor programs for youth players. “It shouldn’t be, but it naturally is.”
John Bradford, the director of boys Classic teams for the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL)
– Wake County’s largest soccer club – says players need to be able to come out, have fun and enjoy themselves, even during tryouts.
“Ultimately, it’s a youth sport they play for pleasure,” Bradford said. “The coaches see players who worry too much, and that carries over in how they perform.”
Bradford said he looks for a high work rate in tryouts. “What stands out to me are players who work hard,” he said. “That gives the coach the feeling of how they will train throughout the season.”
Stockley agreed. “If they’ve got a very good attitude and commitment, then as a coach that’s someone you can work with and make a better player,” he said. “Not applying themselves or not working hard, that’s a massive down mark.”
Tips for Players:
• Arrive early for tryouts, dressed and equipped to take the field on time.
• Bring a ball (with your name on it) and water. Make a bathroom stop before tryouts.
• Come prepared mentally to work hard, as you would for any game. Most tryouts focus largely on scrimmaging because coaches know the game is the best teacher and they can see how the players adapt their skills to game conditions.
• Show enthusiasm. Communicate with your teammates during scrimmages and encourage them.
• Relax, have fun, play your game, and don’t worry about mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. The coaches will be more interested in how you react to mistakes than in their commission.
Tips for Parents:
• If you’re new to the team or coach, get in touch ahead of time to learn how the tryout will work. A newly forming team will need more players than a veteran squad. You can also find out how many teams a club will form in an age group.
• If you stay to observe, sit at a distance and don’t cheer or attempt to coach your child.
• Don’t speak to selectors during the tryout. If you need information, wait until after the day’s session has concluded.
• Selectors look for specific abilities such as speed, ball control, passing and juggling, all of which can be tested in drills. But the coaches are also looking for intangibles such as attitude, communication skills, hustle, aggressiveness and enthusiasm, which are better seen in game-condition scrimmages.
• Be realistic about your child’s chances to make a particular team. Failing to make one team is not the end of your child’s soccer career.
And above all, have fun!
ActiveAlex.com has a complete list of all local soccer organizations and links to their sites under Sports and Activities – Soccer. Tryout dates and registration deadlines are updated regularly on our website and in our Update email.
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