How to Stand Out at Soccer Tryouts
Think about it.
Every year, clubs across the nation cut all of their paying customers and force them to tryout again.
Then there is a reshuffling, some players move up, some players move down...there is never a way to make everyone happy. And I haven't even talked about the parents yet, who get a little whacky this time of year....
Then once we get rolling and playing well as a squad, guess what, time to cut everyone again. But it's also an opportunity. Everyone has fulfilled the commitments they made, sometimes a fresh start is what a player needs, or a new opportunity, or a difference coach with a different voice. It can be a very positive change.
Here's 7 tips to Stand out at Youth Soccer Tryouts and how to nail your perfect team.
- Set 1 Year/3 Year/5 Year Goals. If this seems a little strange, bear with me. Talking to your child and having them map out a plan where they want to go, then back tracking is a great strategy to make sure the steps you are taking are congruent with the long term plan. If soccer is like a 3rd or 4th priority in your kids life, they enjoy it, but it's not in the future plans-get them on a team where they can play, make friends and have a great soccer experience. If they are looking for more out of the game, you want to make sure that the benchmarks are being met along the way. This is about a 5 minute exercise, and don't be surprised if it changes a half dozen times.
- Contact The Coach. Is there a team in your club your interested in? Did you play a team at a tournament this summer and you liked the way the team and the coach performed...Shoot an old fashioned email, introduce yourself and see about getting your son out for a training. Coaches are always looking for players to enhance their team, and this is also a good test to see the coaches people and communication skills...you can tell a lot in this stage about the Coach and the potential fit for your son or daughter.
- Attend Some Trainings. Look, when everything is nice and bright and shiny and new, it's easy. When it's 100 degrees and humid in July, that's when the real colors start to come out...that goes for players, parents, and coaches. Hit up a couple trainings, get an idea of what the coach works on, do they spend a lot of time on individual training, do they do a lot of fitness, what seems to be the theme? Is there a theme to the training. Does your child respond/like the coach? You can tell a lot in this stage. This will also help you stand out on tryout day when your child isn't just another number.
- Talk to Other Parents. This is huge and I share this because you probably need to use some common sense...Happy Parents=Coach is Amazing...Pissed Off Parents=Coach Sucks. There's not a lot of middle room there, and there is usually a direct correlation with kids playing time and opinion of the coach. That said, having a chat with another parent on the team. Ask, how was the season, what did you enjoy about the coach? What do you think of the club? What works for one person may not work for another, but you can likely get some solid feedback. Also utilize sites like Rate My Soccer Coach to get a look under the hood of the coach.
- Train. You need to go into youth soccer tryouts fit, sharp, and confident in order to stand out. You don't get there playing FIFA 10 hours a day. Many players work with a personal trainer to get better away from their club and team training. This can be expensive, anywhere from $50 on the low end to $150 on the super high end. You can also try to split the costs with another player, for example each of you pay $25 but you bring 4-5 players to train. But if you are motivated and self-disciplined, many people like online training programs where they get workouts they can do in their own backyard and save a ton of $$$ and it's theirs to keep for life. Check out the Daily Soccer Skills 15 Day Academy as an all encompassing skills, touch, fitness, shooting, to prepare you for tryouts.
- Understand the Tryout Format. What do the tryouts actually consist of? Are there 1v1's, is it all scrimmaging, possession...What should we expect? This is valuable because if it's a bunch of 1v1's, and you don't like to defend-it's going to be a problem. A good tryout format is a warm-up, some possession, then get the kids into games ASAP. Small sided and Large Sided preferred.
- Be Honest with Yourself. Do you really want to be the 18th player on the roster? Or would you rather be the top player on a lower level team? Let me tell you from experience, 99% of parents say they would prefer their kid to be challenged and be on a higher level team. 99% of parents also say they want their kid to be challenged to get better. 99% of parents want their kids to play 99% of the time. The reality is, I've had situations where I've had a kid on the "bubble" and I've given the player the opportunity. Sometimes the kid takes the opportunity and runs with it and sometimes the gap is just too big to close and it makes for a long, unhappy season filled with phone calls and emails to that players parents. I'm at a point now where I tell parents, "look, your kid is #17 on the roster, the other coach would love to have him...I care about your kid, what do you want to do here?" Having that tough conversation early on can save everyone a lot of headache...it also helps manage expectations. It's also a lot of time and money and commitment to a soccer team. Doing the heavy lifting up front makes for a better season for everyone and shows that the coach truly cares about the players development. Being honest with yourself can really help your child at youth soccer tryouts.
Good luck to everyone going forward in their youth soccer tryouts and I hope you all get what you want and find success. Here's a quick video to help you out on the day of tryouts.