In order to assess a young soccer player on the field, a coach needs to possess a variety of skills and right attitude. The purpose of evaluating a player is to spot his/ her strengths both off and on the field that can be particularly valuable under certain situations and discover weaknesses that will need to be worked upon through practice. Following are the points that need to be kept in mind when assessing a young soccer player;
Mobility: A coach should try to find out if the player is mobile on the soccer field. Mobility as a characteristic is vital to most positions in soccer where it’s needed to cover up a lot of ground, even if the player has no control over the ball.
Ball passing: Evaluate your kid’s passing skills. The player should be able to support his teammate making a pass by making room for him. He may need to obstruct a defending player to do this. So you need to evaluate if he possesses a good sense of the passing lines and his strength in receiving the passes well. Does he have the ability to anticipate and make room for himself in order to receive a pass?
Understanding of the game’s pace: You should note if your player has the knack of understanding the pace of the game. Players should be able to assess what action should be taken in a particular situation. A spontaneous decision based on the understanding of when to obstruct a defending player, when to support a team member by making room and when to move forward or backward are the skills that young players need to have.
Aggressiveness: Your kids should have the tendency to score a goal by attacking the opposition players at the right spot and pass the ball to a fellow player. When positioned as a forward, the player should frequently push forward to put pressure on the opponent.
Speed: Study how quick is your player in switching from a defensive position to an offensive one and vice versa. The player should keep doing so while he is in the fullback position and needs to cover a lot of ground fast.
You need to observe carefully if your players are spreading out in a formation when needed. Are they successfully moving in formation and maintaining passes between themselves?
Evaluate your player’s defensive skills: They should have the ability to stop offensive passes, block opposition’s forward players, foresee and change into defensive position.
Check how consistent your players look when it comes to ball control. Player’s steadiness can be judged from a series of passes where he always gets the ball and move it into the opponents half, or how frequently does he/ she lose the ball to the opposition players.
Take note of your player’s persistence and mental strength: When playing against a stronger team or at a stage where your team scores are pretty low, do your players still show the spirit to refocus and attempt to get back into the game?
All these elements need to be evaluated with honesty and an open mind since they are critical to develop a young team, you being in the leadership role of a coach.
A coach is not just someone who knows how to play good soccer. He’s someone who should know how to teach players the tactics and skills of playing good soccer. Therefore, a combination of full knowledge of the game and adequate man-management skills is expected of a coach conducting a soccer tryout for young soccer players.
Young players need more nurturing, care, encouragement, and a lot of tact to be developed as complete soccer players. Since the young players are still in their developing stage, it would be wise not to expect a lot from them in a soccer trial game. Rather a creative trial game designed to stimulate young soccer players will help them discover their hidden talents and ability.
Before you start with your soccer tryout sessions, following are some points that we recommend you to practice;
- Find out from your players if they already have some experience of playing soccer. If yes, what position do they find most comfortable to play in, and know if a player is left-footed or right-footed, or is equally proficient in using both their feet?
- Soccer is mostly an intuitive game. I suggest you make a team in which some players are experienced soccer players and some are beginners. The idea is not to see that the experienced soccer players make the better players, but to determine the natural ability of the beginners displayed in their good sense of position and instinctive game.
- You can quickly establish which players have good basic soccer skills by making them participate in a 30 minutes trial game. Put eleven players in each team. If the players are less in number, divide them into two teams with equal number.
- You should divide the game into two halves. Then at half-time change the positions of the players on field. This will allow you to determine the position where a particular player is the strongest. Certain players can be more impressive when positioned somewhere else.
- At the end of the game, go for a variety of aptitude tests for players. It could take the form of a penalty-kick competition where each player gets two penalty kicks. Have each player attempt to cross the ball a certain number of times. Throw the ball in the air at different angles to assess each player’s heading skills.
So far we’ve talked about various ways to conduct a soccer tryout with younger players with a view to evaluate their ability, soccer skills and aptitude, and the understanding of the game. Now we shall discuss about the use of soccer evaluation sheets or forms to keep a track of player’s performance during the tryout sessions.
Before you start with the tryout sessions, it is always better to discuss your tryout strategy with the other coaches in our league. This should be done with the intention to develop a basic rating system to evaluate budding soccer players.
It doesn’t matter which type of soccer tryout forms you opt for, the dates of the tryout session must be printed on them well in advance. Along with the dates, the drills performed and the evaluation criteria that shall be followed during the session should also be released. This will clearly inform the players, their parents, and coaches about the attributes expected from them.
Surprises like releasing the tryout dates a day before the scheduled day, without mentioning the nature of drills and the evaluation criteria don’t work in the game of soccer. However, there may be some coaches do not believe in the philosophy of rating young and budding players’ performances, their skills and natural talents. They like to select the players without going through a formal soccer evaluation session.
Still, the fact that if you have a well defined criterion to evaluate you player’s ability on the field and have a set arrangement to follow, things become easy not just for you but for the players and their parents as well can never be uncared for. It helps you assess whether the player’s performance was just the basic, fair, good, top quality, or simply the best.