While I’ve done two prior posts on trying out for premiere-level soccer teams (see here and here), it seems that it is high time to remind my loyal readers of my tips for navigating the whole Soccer Tryout Season and for adding a few more:
- Please talk to your current coach about leaving and why. I believe good coaches will also recognize that your child has outgrown the current situation or just needs a change. Good coaches can help provide insight into other situations and recommend coaches/teams. I have seen coaches who cling to players, (especially their primary scorer!), but this is still a discussion that should be had. If you are already unhappy, what’s the harm? Also…
- There are no secrets. By U12 if not earlier, all of the premiere team managers know each other well and talk to each other. We know about the kids that jump from team to team since all the talent in the world won’t overcome a poor attitude! Been a problem parent? We know that too. The premiere team coaches all know each other. Even if you put cones-of-silence around the managers and coaches, the kids know each other and will be texting other school friends by the end of the tryout. Be open and upfront. Take the high road. See #1.
- Do your homework. Seriously. It will be your money, your time and your gas. Ask questions and expect answers. Call out a coach or manager who speaks in broad generalizations and get specifics. Go see some games. Go to see some training sessions. Ask about the coach’s license. Talk to parents. Be wary of over reliance on win/loss records (unless that’s your thing, of course). Avoid any coach who touts indoor victories as anything worth mentioning. What is the time commitment?
- Train with the other team. A great way to get a good sense of how your child matches up against a “higher” team and what the other players and coach really are like is to train with them. Many coaches allow this, especially during the winter. However, even if the coach personally invites the player to come back more than once, check in with the manager and expect to pay something. The other parents are paying for indoor space and the coaches’ time so be sensitive to this before making your child a regular freeloader at training sessions. If you go too often, they’ll start to see it as time spent not training their child who is already on the team. This can build resentment too early (especially on A/B team. See below). In fact, be first to offer to pay something. Managers love that!
- Check your ego at the door. This may be difficult for some to read but be aware that if your child is trying to make the jump from rec or classic to premiere, they probably lack some of the technical skills that coaches want. This is especially true as the kids get older (probably U13+). This has nothing to do with athletic ability or desire and is more a function of just not being trained at the same level. This doesn’t mean that your child can’t catch up, of course, but be aware of it. Raw athletic talent and “potential” can carry your child a long way but I’ve seen plenty of kids have enough potential to get on a team, only to leave voluntary or involuntarily a season (and several thousand dollars) later because they couldn’t get on the field. NOTE: If your child is the biggest/fastest at 10 years old and the current coach plays a long-ball system dedicated solely to springing your child free to get goals, definitely find a coach that will force your kid to learn the game. Without that, in two years, your kid will be average.
- Beware the A-team/B-team dynamic. See my earlier post. When putting your child in that situation, get a good understand from the coach and manager of how it works. Then go to Hills Gym and stand in the waiting room and see how you like that atmosphere. Not all A/B situations are bad but, while the B-team may be way to get a foot in the door, there were will be plenty of kids who have “put in their time” and your child may be more of a threat than a welcome addition. In theory, an A/B split sounds great – but only works for those on the “A” team.
- Which league your child plays in really doesn’t matter. Find a team and a coach you like. NCSL, WAGS, VCCL, DA, ECNL, etc. all have pros and cons but they will all be bad if your child isn’t in a good situation that they will thrive in.
That’s all! It can be an anxious time so find ways to remind yourself why you are doing it in the first place.
(Trisha – I will post on A/B again soon)
(Basketball fans: Man, have I got a lot to say about youth basketball. Stay tuned).