Archive for the ‘tryouts’ Category

Want to Get Noticed at a Tryout? Try a Bicycle Kick

May 13, 2010

I’ve written several articles on tryouts: one for coaches entitled, “The Worst Part of Coaching” and one for players entitled, “Be More Vocal at Tryouts”. The most important thing a player has to do at a tryout is to get noticed, preferably for a positive action. Being a good player certainly helps and being vocal will draw attention to yourself. The other way to get noticed is to attempt a bicycle kick.

I say bicycle kick because it is one of the most recognizable, beautiful and yet most difficult moves in soccer. Any time I see a player attempt a bicycle kick, it tells me the players is:

  • Knowledgeable about the game of soccer
  • Creative
  • Confident

In addition to a bicycle kick, these actions will also get a player the attention he/she needs to stand out from other players:

  • Communication
  • An excellent and unselfish assist
  • A beautiful goal
  • Great dribbling moves
  • Crisp, well-positioned passes on the ground.
  • Comfortable with both feet
  • Long throw-ins

Conversely, attempting a bicycle kick or any other move when it is not necessary (for example, a defender performs a bicycle kick in his/her defensive third just to be cute) can have the opposite effect. It can get a player noticed for the wrong reason.

Before a tryout, ask yourself (and ask the advice of other coaches and parents) and write down your strengths (initiative should be a strength since you are taking the time to think about your strengths). With your list in hand, try to apply and demonstrate these strengths at every opportunity you have during the tryout. But don’t force these strengths–strengths should come naturally.

Actually, I lied. The most important thing a player has to do at a tryout is to enjoy the experience and have fun! Good luck!

Players: Be Vocal at Tryouts

March 13, 2010

I was at a U12 tryout the other day and thought for a moment I was in a movie theater watching a 2-star movie. Other than hearing the coach’s instructions, it was very, very quiet. Granted most U12 boys and girls are relatively quiet on the soccer field and they don’t like bringing attention upon themselves. Also when kids are nervous, they tend to clam up. However, the best thing a player can do to improve his/her chances of making a team is to be vocal and communicative.

What players and coaches at all levels need to understand is that soccer is as much about communication as other traditional aspects of the game, if not more. Refer to my other posts entitled, “2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Communication” and “Four Eyes Are Better than Two” that describe terms, benefits, and the importance of communication.

When I evaluate players, as soon as I hear a player who is consistently communicating effectively with his/her teammates, I will rank that player higher even if he/she is not one of the top players. That is how important I believe communication is in soccer.

There are other reasons why I like to have vocal players on my team.

  • More often than not, vocal players understand a lot about the game of soccer. They are usually students of the game. I believe it is easier to teach technical skills to knowledgeable players than it is to teach great athletes the finer points of the game.
  • During the game, the more talking and communicating that takes place on the field between players, the less talking coaches (and parents) will feel compelled to do.
  • Vocal players tend to be more congratulatory which will foster good sportsmanship and more team cohesiveness.

On the other hand, the wrong type of communication can have negative consequences.

  • Don’t voice or show displeasure if you did not receive a pass when you were wide open. The coaches will know that you were open and will see your displeasure.
  • Don’t yell or scream for the ball. An assertive, “I’m open” should be enough to get a player’s and coach’s attention.
  • Just don’t “talk-the-talk”. Make sure to “walk-the-walk”. No one likes a verbose player (talk-the-talk) and that does not back up his/her words with actions (walk-the-walk).

Players! At your next tryout make yourself heard, even if it is only to say, “Good job!” to a teammate. If you do, your vocals will be noticed and appreciated and you will most likely hear Simon Cowell say, “Welcome to Hollywood!”

The Worst Part of Coaching—the Tryout

January 27, 2010

For many young players, there is nothing more nerve-racking than trying out for a team. The reasons are plentiful. A player is:

  • Competing against players that may be much better than them.
  • Being evaluated by a brand new coach and is being ranked and rated.
  • Dealing with the internal pressure of possibly not making the team.

The tryout is not much easier for the coach. Sure it is fun to see and evaluate new talent, especially when a player you have never seen before or heard anything about makes a favorable impression. But there is usually nothing harder a coach will have to do the whole season than having to tell a young player that he did not make the team.

As a coach for a number of competitive teams, I have learned over the years some very good practices that make these difficult decisions easier for the coaches as well as for the players and parents.

  • Before the final roster is announced or posted, the players who did not make the team need to be called.
    • If a parent answers, tell the parent why you are calling and when you are done with him or her that you would like to speak to Billy personally. As I wrote in a previous post entitled, ‘Player, Parents, and Coach Meetings and Evaluations‘, tell the parent the good aspects of Billy’s game and character and then a few things that he needs to work on. Also tell the parent that you want to send a thank you letter to Billy that will include an overview of the positives and what he should work on. An email could work, but a letter is more meaningful.
    • If the player answers, take a deep breath and proceed with the unwanted news in a caring and nurturing manner. When you are done, make sure you get an opportunity to talk with a parent.
    • If there is no answer, leave a message asking them to call you back. Don’t leave a message saying Billy did not make the team. If they don’t call back and the next day there is still no answer, send them an email.
  • After the tryouts and throughout the season, make yourself available to the players who did not make the team as well as to the parents. Provide them with your email address and tell them they can contact you any time.
  • Remember the names and faces of the players who did not make your team. When you run into them, call them by name and ask how they are doing. (I am terrible with names so when I don’t remember a name, I ask them to remind me).
  • Try getting the names of the teams that these players end up playing for. Keep this information in a paper notebook you carry with you in a PDA or phone. When you happen across a game that features one of these teams, watch the game. If time permits, talk with the player and parents after the game. If you see improvement in Billy’s game, especially in the areas you mentioned that needed work, mention it. If you don’t have time, send them an email.
  • At some point during the season, send an email to the players that did not make the team and their parents inquiring how things are going.
  • Make sure that during the tryouts the players and parents know how you intend to contact everyone with the results so there are no surprises.

Yes, taking the time to call 10, 20, or 30+ players is time consuming and composing notes about the positives and areas for improvement for each player requires a great deal of effort. But I believe, especially with young players, tryouts must not be a bad experience. Taking the extra time and effort and showing care and compassion will mean a lot to the players and his/her parents who did not make the team. Don’t expect everyone to thank you for your efforts but in the long run, these players and parents will appreciate you.


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