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Preparing for Youth Soccer Tryouts
For players, parents and even coaches, soccer tryouts is an event that many do not look forward to. A player’s understanding of the game is questioned and little details are scrutinized. Coaches have the task of evaluating a number of players and could hastily judge a player on not being good enough. While there is no perfect way to prepare for soccer tryouts, parents and players can follow the process below to boost their chances of making the team:
- Fitness and Health
- Research the Team
- Figuring Out What the Coaches Want
- Practicing 1v1 and 2v2
- What to Do When Things Go Wrong
Fitness and Health
To perform to one’s best ability, it is necessary for the player to be in the right physical shape. Eating healthy, sufficient hydration, adequate sleep and frequent training are all foundational components to stay in top shape. Anywhere between four to six weeks before the tryouts begin, parents should guide players to maintain a flexible, yet disciplined schedule. Starting early will help the player build momentum, fueling the player with confidence, rather than a feeling of anxiousness and nervousness.
Research the Team
Finding out exactly what a team is looking for in a new recruit will be helpful knowledge for a player trying out, so they can focus their training around these attributes. What is the team’s style of play? Do they like short passing combination play, or direct long balls in behind? Answering these questions will better prepare the player to showcase these abilities when it comes time to try out. Researching the team will also determine if the team is even a good fit for the player. Some teams will focus more on the results of the game, rather than developing the players. If development is important to the player, then these teams may not be the best fit for them.
What Do Coaches Want?
Understanding the coach’s expectation of a player is also important to know before attending a tryout. Part of preparing for tryouts is realizing what qualities the coach is looking for in a player, as well as avoiding undesirable qualities. If possible, contacting the coach for permission to watch their team practices and games may better help the player to understand the coach's expectations and preferences.
Practicing 1v1 and 2v2
Drills for one-versus-one and two-versus-two is a common assessment during tryouts, regardless of what position the player plays. For one-versus-one, it is important for attacking players to showcase their abilities to beat defenders and finish with scoring past the goalkeeper. For defenders, they must display their capabilities to close down space and not let any attacker get past them, or have a clear shot on goal. The same principles stand for two-versus-two, but now the coaches observe how well you can work with teammates. It is extremely important to constantly communicate and provide information to one another to improve your chances of winning these mini-games. To practice these skills, one could ask a friend or sibling to assist them with their training. Repetition of these drills will increase the player’s confidence, as they will have practiced dribbling past an opponent and defending attackers a numerous amount of times.
When It Goes Wrong
Despite all the work a player may put in, their performance during tryouts may drop below their usual standard. Maybe the player is missing their passes, failing to make tackles, or missing goal scoring opportunities. Regardless if things go wrong, it is unacceptable for the player to drop their head and give up. The coaches will be looking to see how the player reacts to their mistakes, seeing if they move past their errors, or if they dwell on them and further negatively affect their performance.