Soccer Coaches on Preparing for Soccer Tryouts – Part II
Tryout season is in full swing around Southern California, with hundreds of young players heading out to try to catch on with the “perfect” club or team. Many will have good sessions, attracting the attention they hope for. But some players will not be ready for the day because they don’t know what to do to be at their best. SoccerToday spoke with several area coaches to get the lowdown on how players can be prepared to show their skills to the best advantage.
Part II with Alberto Bru, Tony Bruce, Billy Garton, Colin Chesters, Jimmy Obleda, Chris Lemay, Mario Mrakovic, Noah Gins, Rick Moore and Nate Hetherington speaking out on how to prepare for club tryouts.
Coaches Advice Part I with Paul Caligiuri, Randy Waldrum plus…
“AB” Alberto Bru, Real So Cal Program Director
Here are some ideas on how to choose where to tryout:
1) Look for a team that you can get enough playing time on, without that, regardless of the quality of coach or team a player cannot develop completely over the long term.
Common mistake: player or parent choose a team because of it’s success or stature but end up not being able to get the proper playing time needed, a year later are actually less of a player than when they joined.
2) Look for a team that is truly a better situation all around than where you currently are playing.
Common mistake: players switch teams or clubs because the new team is a bit better than the existing team, but the team they have left was actually a better fit for that particular individual, a year later…..
The rest, follow steps and advice below and from Part I
Tony Bruce, Real Salt Lake @ Arizona Academy
Kids have to be themselves, not try to impress the coach with step-overs and other moves. Just work hard and show what you can do. Most coaches are looking for hard working players who have some talent that they can help develop.
Billy Garton, Former Professional soccer player with Manchester United
“I always tell kids on tryout to play smart soccer. Many kids come with the intention of impressing coaches with dribbling and doing moves/tricks.
Any good coach will look at the players intelligent play and decision making, over their ability to dribble past 3 players then lose the ball .Don’t be selfish and don’t be a “ball hog”
I also love to see players with personality and an appetite for soccer.Players should try their best to show they are enthusiastic and have a big desire to play soccer,this can get you noticed and shows you are a serious soccer player.
Finally, coaches like kids with respect, shake the coach’s hand at the end and thank them , ask the coach if they need help collecting equipment at end of session.”
Colin Chesters, San Diego Surf Director of Coaching
- You should be yourself, relax and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Demonstrate your understanding of the game and your decision-making skills.
- Players are not judged by one or two mistakes but by their skills and decision making throughout the entire tryout. Touch the ball as much as you can. Coaches are looking for kids who understand the game.
- Want the ball. The more you get involved the better it will be.
- Good decision making is important. Coaches look to see if players are making the best choice, the optimum choice, most of the time.
- If a player has the ball, often there are three options of what he could do with it: dribble and try to score, pass it to a player who might be in a better position to be able to score, or pass it to someone who is clearly open. It is important to try to get the most out of each play.
Mario Mrakovic, San Diego Surf Grassroots Program Director/San Diego Futsal Owner
- Always look for a quality teacher in a soccer coach, not the one that will coach your child, but the one that will actually TAKE INTEREST in your child. Look for a person that will care about your child and his or her development first, ahead of the team’s development.
- At tryouts the player should be on time, dressed properly and always stay attentive. The players that show more desire and love for the ball during the tryout scrimmages, are the usually the ones that get picked first.
- Speed, size and aggressiveness will always be noticed by the coaches. Some coaches do not look at dates of birth and do not see the potential, but rather what can a player do right now at this very moment.
- Be vocal, be noticeable, always be around the ball, tackle hard, run fast, and score some goals. That is always a plus.
Jimmy Obleda, Fullerton Rangers Director of Player Development and 2012 NSCAA Youth National Coach of the Year
I can’t speak for all coaches but what we at Fullerton Rangers look for is potential. We look for the player that is good, not necessarily great. The great or very good players are easy to spot. It takes no work to identify them. The real art is identifying “the diamonds in the rough” and the roles they can play on the team after some work. From my experience, those are the players that grow the most and end up being very important players on the teams. Those are the ones during tryouts that we keep our eyes out for the most.
I would advise younger players to be “READY” – ready to show the coaches how good they are, ready to deal with unfamiliar circumstances and players. They should also be ready to play positions that they are not normally accustomed too and still show well. They just need to be READY.
The best way to stand out is to just play the best you can play. Don’t try to do things that aren’t you as a soccer player. That usually ends up backfiring. If you are good at tackling, do it. If you are good at dribbling or passing, show it. That is it. Remember, just be confident in yourself and play the best you can play. The rest is out of your control.
I think the mental factor is what really makes it all work during tryouts. If you are strong mentally, the technical and physical all follow along. Mentally, players need to be confident in who they are. It may sound silly, but self talk and visualization always help to build that confidence prior to important events like tryouts.
Chris Lemay, Eight-Time State Cup Champion, former Coach of the Year
Parents of young kids should try not to stress the kids out. Just tell the kids it is a fun practice and they are trying out to see what the coaches think. Even for older kids, to me it is about enjoying yourself and dancing like no one is watching. As soon as you keep looking over your shoulder and you spend too much time concentrating on what the coaches are doing – are they writing things down, are they looking at another player more – your has focus has gone away from the game.
Players who are good players that truly enjoy playing soccer and just love the game should go out there like it is any other day. Their approach should be the same – whether it is playing in a backyard or the World Cup final.
Noah Gins, Technical Director of Albion SC, San Diego
Tryouts are very important and players should try and master them over the years. The higher the level of tryout, the more it becomes a mental game for the player to master.
Whether it is U8, U16, high school or professional, players need to understand that coaches are always looking for players who stand out in the following ways:
- Players that want the ball
- Players that display technical dominance
- Players that are vocal and stand out with good communication
- Players that have great physical attributes.
- Players that are coachable
- Players that have a team mentality and are willing to place team ahead of individual.
Rick Moore, North San Diego Futbol Club (Stallions) Director of Coaching
What I value most in a player is attitude. As I explain each year to coaches and parents alike, the most important quality we look for in a prospective player is “coachability.” Techniques and tactics are what we teach. Conditioning, and even speed can be improved through training, but nothing can be accomplished without players who are willing to learn and make their best effort, and who desire to be part of a winning team. Whether at U-9 or U-19, a good attitude is contagious while a poor attitude is poisonous.
Nate Hetherington, Rancho Santa Fe Attack (coach) and San Diego Sockers (player)
Control the Controllables – you try to prepare with repetition and practice, but often times you don’t know if you are going to have a good touch on the day. So you must do things that you can control.
- Have CONFIDENCE
- Communicate in a positive way to your teammates
- Work hard throughout the try-outs with mobility and energy
- Enjoy the experience. As we all know, we play our best when we are relaxed and having fun!
Soccer Tryout Summary
When you look at the suggestions from top coaches, several things stand out. First, be sure that the club/team you are trying out for is the one that is right for you. Do your homework first and make certain that the coach is someone you can/want to work with. Remember that the goal is to make a team that you can play for, not warm the bench. For the next year this is going to be your soccer “home,” so do what you can to ensure it is a good home.
Prepare yourself before the tryout by getting as many touches as you can. Spend time with simple drills that will keep your skills sharp. And be sure to eat well and hydrate, especially the critical 48 hour period before the big day.
On the day of the tryout be sure to arrive extra early. If the club suggests 30 minutes early for sign-in, be there at least 45 minutes before. Warm up before the session, even if no one else is. Show the coaches that you are eager to be a part of the team. Speak to the coaches and thank them for the chance to try out with the club. Listen to everything they say and be one of the first to follow directions.
During the tryout remember that you are not Messi or Abby Wambach. Don’t try to overdo or show off something tricky just to impress the coaches – chances are you will not. Coaches are looking for good, solid players who can fit into their system. Doing the simple things well will do more to impress than all of the little tricks combined. And remember that you generally have at least an hour and a half to show your skills. There is no need to do it all at once.
Finally, remember that not everyone will make the team. If you are not chosen for your “dream team,” try to have a second choice to fall back on. And remember, as Erik Kirsch tells his players when they go out for National teams or ODP, “You’re not a failure if you don’t make it. You’re a success because you tried.”