By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
I realize this is maybe a month late and wished I could keep track of all the teams, clubs and leagues and when they had tryout dates. Perhaps what I wish more is that both kids and parents believed once they had tried out and committed to one team, they felt the ethical need to stand by that decision.
I typically and consistently insist that youth coaches involve parents in the sacred soccer triangle of kid-parent-coach as all three are needed for players to fulfill their potential. But to be honest, tryouts and consequent behavior challenge all that truly matters.
So to try and help, I offer the following advice for parents’ reaction to any tryout that is professionally run.
Perhaps the best place to start is to help parents understand what a professionally-run tryout looks like. To help, I offer the following criteria as good things to consider.
- One where a clearly defined style of play and key skills and tactical awareness issues are presented to coaches doing the assessment.
- Coach/player ratios are close to game format. As an example at U8, playing 7v7 1:14 max.
- A tryout that looks like different slices of the real game e.g., 1v1 , 2v2, 3v3
- One that at least two/three different sets of eyes are given to each player.
- One that gives at least two nights for the player to show their worth (we all have bad days)
- One that ends in the kids playing the game format they are moving up to play.
- One that involves the thoughts and criteria of those coaches that worked with them over the last 12 months (Yes, this should be weighted and YES, the opinion of a truly professional coach with appropriate license should be considered worth more than that of a parent/coach with no licensing) Do I need to explore the reasons why ?
Assuming all the criteria above are in place, I urge all parents to consider the following:
- No one is out to get your kid and although you love them, you are not a soccer expert. You may think they are the quickest and most skilled in the world, but it is not true!
- It is best for your kid’s development to compete against kids of similar athletic , technical and tactical development as they play together.
- The label of the A, B and C team is how important ?
- Your kids will make new friends and that is very cool so demanding they never make new friends and must stay with the same group of kids at age nine is a little crazy.
- This is not about you and your bumper stickers, and it is okay and true to think that all kids develop at different rates. If you allow them to develop in the right environments, how great may they become?
- Learning takes time and it is really okay for kids to deal with a little disappointment and strife. They may learn to battle and work hard to achieve their aims – probably a good thing. Why rob them of it ?
- They will probably not become a professional soccer player, so which key life lessons do you want to teach them and live by?
- Is throwing a tantrum and demanding a new team truly the message you want to send every time disappointment arrives ???