Prep Soccer Update: Tips For Successful Soccer Tryouts
How to shine at High School soccer tryouts – great advice from Coach Hetherington of Cathedral Catholic High School and Coach Mike Jones of Horizon Prep and Santa Fe Christian. What players should do and what they should avoid at soccer tryouts — and even tips for parents.
For much of the country, soccer clubs are moving their practices indoors, and high schools are wrapping up their playoffs. In Southern California, with its rich soccer soil and ideal climate, high school players are anxiously awaiting the upcoming winter season of Prep Soccer.
Most San Diego Prep Soccer teams are coached by competitive club coaches, giving San Diego high school soccer programs some of the best coaching staffs in the nation.
Just from RSF Attack nine competitive club coaches also coach teams at local high schools:
- Shawn Beyer, Cathedral Catholic High School (CCHS)
- Martin Coughlin, Westview HS
- Martin Hanford, Torrey Pines HS
- Nate Hetherington, CCHS
- Tom Lockhart, Canyon Crest Academy (CCA)
- Evan McNeley, CCHS
- Bryce Ostroff, CCA
- Jase Scarvaci, Bishops School
- Malcolm Tovey, Bishops School
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has declared Saturday November 15th as the first day high schools can begin team activities for Winter sports. Most high schools will be starting week-long tryouts on Monday, November 17th. Here at Prep Soccer Update, we have reached out to several top Prep Soccer coaches to collect advice and tips for aspiring high school soccer players who will be attending stressful and high-pressure soccer tryouts next week.
Start Preparing Now
Nate Hetherington, soccer director and boys’ varsity coach at Cathedral Catholic High School, advises players to start preparing early. High schoolers who aren’t playing with a club still have a chance to make their high school teams, but they need to start preparing as soon as possible. Coach Hetherington suggests, “Get a lot of touches on the ball — this will help you feel confident technically.”
Hetherington also stresses fitness: “Get a lot of fitness in as you will have 3-5 days of demanding training and you must have your body physically ready.”
Nutrition and hydration are also crucial, and not just on the field. A weekend of junk food and soda will definitely not help your tryout performance. Coach Hetherington adds, “Start hydrating properly at least two days before tryouts begin, and eat good nutritious foods,” so that your body will be able to handle a week of grueling tryouts.
A Peek Inside a Prep Soccer Tryout
When asked to describe a typical tryout, Coach Hetherington was quick to point out that every coach will run tryouts a little differently, but he thinks his tryout setup is pretty standard. “I start with simple warm-ups and stretching, then we move into technical work.
“I run players though different quick passing drills. Lots of 1-touch passing and ball control. After that, I leave a lot of time for small-sided scrimmages.” Hetherington will then move through the scrimmage groupings, observing the players and making notes.
“It is pretty normal for schools to have over one hundred players trying out for two or three teams, and those teams will have 18-25 players on each roster, so it is very competitive.
The small-sided scrimmages give me the best chance to observe each player’s style, skill, soccer brain, and mentality.” After a few days of tryouts, each school has its own method of announcing rosters.
Torrey Pines High School, for example, will post rosters on the team’s website after tryouts are completed. Some schools will announce rosters at the end of the last tryout day.
How to Shine
We asked Coach Hetherington and Coach Mike Jones of Horizon Prep and Santa Fe Christian what advice they would give players who will be trying out next week.
Jones was quick to say, “Smile. A positive attitude is so important and will keep a coach’s attention at tryouts. Don’t complain. Ever. Work hard. No excuses. You’ll make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best players. The great thing about this game is when you mess up, there’s always a time in the near future for you to make up for it.
Hetherington also stressed that a positive and confident attitude on the field is very important: “Be CONFIDENT as you are always looking to get on the ball. You should have an aura about you that draws positive attention. All communication should be positive. I don’t want to hear kids swearing on the field. That gives off a negative vibe, and I will remember that player for the wrong reasons.”
Regarding the actual soccer play during tryouts, Coach Hetherington advises, “Work hard. Every coach wants a player that is ACTIVE. Be vocal. This is a great way to make an impression with and without the ball.
Body language is huge — shoulders back and moving on your toes.
Great Advice for Success: If a mistake is made, let it go immediately and get on with the next play. This will also help the coaches to forget.
Assess, Assess, Assess! Remember to look over both shoulders constantly as you read the game. This allow you to feel more at ease and make better decisions.
As for your down-time during tryouts, don’t worry too much about the coaches scrutinizing your every move. Relax with your friends and just chill. Don’t do anything stupid that will draw negative attention to you, but feel free to relax and give your brain a break from the stress.”
Coaches Jones and Hetherington also agree on the role of parents.
Hetherington strongly advises that parents play a silent role in tryouts and said, “Parents should just let the kids go through the experience, and YES it is distracting when parents scream out to their children. I prefer closed tryouts due to this issue. Players should be the ones asking for feedback at this age as it is good preparation for the college experience.”
Jones agrees: “Parents need to stay away and let the kids fight their own battles. Any player can come to me and ask for advice, input, or constructive criticism.”
In closing, we asked each coach for a final bit of advice. Hetherington said, “The worst thing a player can do is to go through the motions and not put in the effort. The best thing a player can do is to be BRAVE and CONFIDENT.”
Jones added, “Expect a bunch of kids at tryouts to be feeling the same way you are. Everyone is nervous. Find a friend — preferably a friend who isn’t disruptive — that will help you feel more comfortable. The BEST feeling in the world is getting that high school soccer uniform for the first time and being a part of that team — enjoy it!”
Best of luck to every prep soccer team this coming season! PSU wishes you a successful, injury-free, and fabulous high school season.
If you are a high school student interested in submitting stories & photos to PSU showing off your school’s soccer team, GET READY! We will be announcing our Prep Soccer Update student section very soon!