A Question about Tryouts 

Liz from Anchorage, Alaska writes - Any suggestions on how to run a good tryout for a team?   Shelley from Dayton, Ohio writes - Can you recommend any formats of ways to do tryouts, drills ,etc. ?

Some Suggestions

Sure. Depends on the age group and number of sessions you can have.  There are many workable ways to have a good tryout, here is just one idea.

If you just have one day.....

For field players, introduce yourself and explain that you are having a tryout. Tell your players that it will be like a fun practice from which everyone will take something home.  You may wish to begin with one ball per individual, or one ball between two for touches of many types as your technical warm-up. Perhaps ten different one minute activities.

Next, stretch.

Make sure that you get to see your 2's a lot in the 6v6 and 11v11.  Your keepers play only in the 6v6 and 11v11. Before that they should be working with a keeper trainer to warm-up, train, and be evaluated. During the match, make your own assessment.

After the session, gather the players and thank them for their effort. Then be prompt as heck getting notifications out - do it the same night, don't wait.

If you have more than one day, which is a blessing....

Do all the stuff above one day, but pick some competitiveness exercises (1v1 stuff) and rate the players. If you will score the players in competition against each other and against the team average, you will find some helpful information. You will find some good examples in the back of Anson Dorrance's book "Training Soccer Champions", but here are a few you can use.

1. Speed ladder - sort the players out in a list using your first guess as to speed. Race them 30 yards, two at a time. The winner moves up, the loser moves down in the next list. One player sits out each round, either the first or the last.

2. 1v1 to cone goals - partners with 1 ball play to either one cone goal (touch it with ball for goal) or to two small cone goals in 10x10 space. 1 point per goal, have to win ball to get ball. Play for 1 minute at a time, then change partners. Give 2 points for win, 1 for tie, 0 for loss.

3. 1v1 to goal with keeper - line of defenders at post, each with ball.  Line of attackers at halfway line, no ball. Keeper in goal. Defender plays pass to attacker, then moves out to try to prevent shot and to win ball.  Attacker tries to score goal. Score both defender and attacker. Defender gets three for stuffing the shot or winning the ball, two for a shot allowed wide, one for a shot on goal saved by keeper, and no points for allowing a goal. Attacker gets 3 for a goal, 2 for a shot on goal, 1 for a shot wide, 0 for losing the ball without a shot or getting stuffed. In addition, the attacker gets an extra point for beating the defender on the dribble.

In any case, you can list these results separately (keep a table for all players), and sum up the results. Rank the players by their score and have a look at the ranking to see how it compares to your observations in the 1v1, 3v3, 6v6, and 11v11 games.

Then, here's how you use it.

Making a Selection

  1. Players who contribute little in the competitive matches and score poorly in the competitiveness exercises need to go back to a more fundamental training level. Get them a personal trainer and a lot of playing time in small sided play if possible.
  2. Kids who have a lot of impact in the 6v6 and 11v11 matches, and who do well in the competitiveness exercises should be signed up.
  3. Kids who have impact in the 6v6 and 11v11 but do less well in the competitiveness exercises may have some basic holes in their game.

Depending on the purpose of your team, make a call. If you are a player builder working with kids, keep the kid and work on the competitiveness part. If you see a lot of athleticism and love of the game, then go ahead and fix the broken part.

However, you may want to keep kids who do very well in the competitiveness exercises but don't yet do much in the game. These are kids who may have had no tactical training and don't really know how to combine with other players to attack and defend. I always keep these kids if I can talk with them and just by asking simple questions learn what they know about the game. For older players, U11 and up, you can just ask a kid the simple question "If you are a midfielder and your defender runs forward with the ball right at you, what should you do?" If the kid can't describe making a run to take opponents away, overlapping the ball, or backing out of the space with an open body shape to provide support, then the kid does not really know the basic game and can not help yet because of lack of knowledge. If you are the coach who can provide some help, then take the kid.

Good Luck

Hope this helps. There are a million things more I could say, but let me know if that's enough of an idea.

I prefer to have kids come into the team and train and play with us over several weeks. Having players guest play with your team over several matches is a wonderful way to get to know players. You get to know the players and their families better and see them more. The trend, however, is to have huge 300 player tryouts.