How to Select a Soccer Team Through Tryouts

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Tryouts can be hard for everyone! – (Photo: Transylvaniasoccer.com)

For young soccer players, one of the toughest things to experience is the tryout.  Yes, you want to just relax and play to the best of your abilities, but the pressures surrounding getting chosen or not can make these tryouts a very stressful event.  For soccer coaches the process can be just as hard.  You want to pick the best team, but you know that anyone not chosen will be heartbroken and disappointed.  You also have to deal with issues regarding players who made it last year or knowing the parents or kids of your team.  Many school teachers/coaches have to deal with rejecting a student from their class for the soccer team!  How can you make the best decision for the team?

First off you need to cast aside any potential “politics” and simply focus on the players and what they can do with a soccer ball at their feet.  Someone’s dad may be your friend.  Someone may be your favorite student, and someone else might be the funnest, nicest guy in the world.  But you need to focus on their skills and whether they can help your team.

Another thing to consider is to focus on selecting the most talented group of players that you want for the team.  Don’t get caught up in forming a starting lineup or thinking about which player may fit the bill best as a defender versus the third best striker.  Simply go with the best players that come to play on the tryout day.  Once you have a strong group of players, you can move them about positions to find where they fit the best.  Also, with injuries, player development, and the simple fact that a tryout just captures a fraction of a player’s overall talent level, you won’t necessarily know how your team will best click until several weeks down the road. Don’t have pre-planned ideas set in stone.

Another thing you may have to consider is the players that have already been on the team from the previous year.  While you know these players best from already training with them for a full season, you must also assess how they perform at a tryout.  Some players improve, some get worse.  You need to be able to step away from your feelings and simply pick the top players.  Whether or not someone was a fun player on the team before shouldn’t give them a free ride to the team each and every year.  Remember that even top professional soccer clubs experience some player turnover every year.

Lastly, be firm in your assessments of the players.  There will always be a case of someone feeling disappointed because they got too nervous or didn’t put on their best display at the tryout.  That is their problem, not yours.  Remember, a tryout captures how a player performs under intense scrutiny and pressure.  Players who fold during a tryout probably won’t hold their nerve in a penalty shootout either!

At the end of the day, you just need to select the players you feel most comfortable with that will give the squad every opportunity to win.  For every player cut, there is another excited person ready to give it all this season!  Get through this process and get started coaching your new team!


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