Tryout Time – What club is right for your child?

As the dreaded “tryout period” is upon us, how do you find the club that best fits your child?

Each child and family crave and desire different versions of success, both long term and short term. The immediate short term is winning the gold medal in the U10 Boys Silver bracket on any given weekend, or keeping a team together for the benefit of the social circle of parents. (However, that’s an expensive way to keep friends, and likely not what’s best for the child).

The long term is to create or influence the direction of all youth soccer players to become upstanding young adults in the near future, due to their involvement in youth soccer. Another example of long term would be to get your youth player in to the best environment to continue their soccer playing days in a collegiate program.

So how accurate can a tryout really be? A group of nervous 10-year-olds are not likely to display their true potential and ability due to the amount of stress a tryout can create, which is compounded by a group of adult coaches observing the players’ every move.

In an article written by Ian Barker, he provides some suggestions on how clubs can create a more “player friendly” process built over time.

“For the majority of youth soccer clubs, a blended approach to team formation can be very successful and should include: 

* Player evaluation conducted over the course of the season by club coaches;

* Formal tryouts for eligible players within and outside the club;

* Targeted marketing of opportunities to players from other clubs pursuant to the league/state rules;

* An element of the team coaches’ feedback and personal choice;

* The interest of the club, team and individual player, particularly in terms of development and retention.”  

A key point to take away from this article is player evaluation by club coaches. Inevitably, new players will come, and they can be seen with the current group. Once selected to a roster, this should not tie a player to this roster, but it should be an option for a weekly or monthly “tryout/evaluation.” Should a player continue to work hard and improve, the movement between rosters or age groups should be considered. A coach and a club can learn and observe a lot more weekly, monthly, and yearly with their players, than they can in two hours at tryouts.

With the way the landscape of youth soccer has improved and grown, one thing is for sure: you will have multiple options to place your child on the best team.

If you are unsure of your club’s philosophy or direction, reach out to your club’s director and request feedback. Each club should have a “why” behind what they do. The club should also have a clear message of what your child, and you as a parent, should expect in your time with that club.


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