Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Youth Soccer: Tips and Tricks to Make a Select Soccer Team

Here are some tips and tricks to get your kid noticed during a select soccer tryout.

When my daughter was ready to play select soccer at U9, I used my knowledge of the process to help her get noticed. This is what I did. Perhaps it will help you position your kid for selection on a top team.

Prior to the tryout, I did some homework to figure out what the team had and what they needed. The team that my daughter was trying out for was very, very good. They finished in the middle of the U8 Elite Division and won a major U8 tournament. The team had 10 girls on roster, but the "paid" coach wanted to cut to 9 players. I found out that the team was going to cut the 10th ranked player who struggled at the highest competition level and wanted to upgrade the 9th ranked girl if talent was available. I also found out that 50 girls were expected to compete for the coveted spot.

Well how do you get noticed when there are 50 girls trying out for one position.

Obviously, your kid needs to have skills to compete. He or she will not make a top team by fooling the evaluators. Here is how I helped my highly skilled daughter standout.

1) Get to the tryout early and show off.
The evaluators will likely be setting up the field. Have your kid shoot, do individual moves around you,  juggle etc. This will allow your kid to get a sneak peek look. Showing up early demonstrates commitment and enthusiasm.

2) Wear something that will standout in a crowd. Have your kid wear a neon colored soccer shirt or crazy socks or anything that will be noticeable and unique. My daughter wore the black and white striped jersey of the Italia Serie A team, Siena.

3) If the tryout is conducted over multiple days, make sure your kid wears the same outfit both days (wash it of course). This is especially important if they did well at the first tryout.

4) Stand out with individual moves. Assuming your kid knows how to do individual moves like scissors or a Maradona spin move, he or she should use them during the tryout drills and scrimmages. It's the easiest way to stand out. My daughter did a Maradona spin move in the first 10 minutes of her elite team tryout. Immediately after the move, the head evaluator went up to her to get her name. Within 10 minutes, every evaluator was calling her by her name. The Maradona move is so easy to do, my daughter has been using it in games since she was five. This video shows you how to do it.

5) Take advantage of water breaks to stand out during the tryouts. When a water break is called have your kid get off the field quickly and drink plenty of liquids. After they are fully hydrated, make sure your kid is the first one back on the field. My daughter went to the middle of the field and juggled while others took their time resting. She looked enthusiastic and energetic while others looked tired.

6) Make sure your kid works very hard when the evaluators are looking and conserves energy when they are not. Often there is a main field where the head evaluator spends most of the time and several side fields to keep kids busy. It's important not to waste energy on the side fields if evaluators are not watching. Your child needs the energy to out-hustle everyone on the main evaluation field.

7) Your kid should avoid playing goalie in tryouts unless they are trying out for goalie. The trainer / evaluator will often ask for volunteers to jump into the goal during tryouts. Time in goal for non-goalies is wasted time. Time not being evaluated on field for their strengths. I have noticed that many kids volunteer because they are tired and need a rest. If there is a choice between jumping in goal and sitting out, then they should jump in goal and show as much athleticism as possible.

8) Introduce yourself to the head evaluator after the tryout. Tell the evaluator your name and your kid's name. Point your kid out. Typically tryouts are at the end of the spring season (late May or early June) ask the evaluator to recommend a summer camp. This shows commitment and passion for the game. Many of the evaluator / trainers have their own summer training camps. Let them plug their camp. Give them contact info so that they can send you an email with the info. Sometimes a little thing like this will put a kid over the top.

9) Go to all the tryouts even if they say only one is required. Many teams hold tryouts over several days. If you really want to make a team, I would suggest that you go to all the tryouts. The more looks you can get the better especially if your son or daughter has talent to show off.

The Main Point

Making a select team takes standout skills, the confidence to use those skills while trying out, the energy to showcase the skills, the ability to standout in a crowd and a demonstrated passion of the sport. Good luck.


  1. Thanks for the tips. Attending try outs seems like good exposure for your child to see the real competition. Good post.

  2. Giving it your all and showing up as early as possible might give you a better chance to make the team. Thanks for posting.

  3. All your tips are good but you forgot to mention one most important factor and it is 'food and nutrition'.

  4. Making a select team doesn't just take skills and great energy, but also the ability to stand out. Thank you for sharing this post.

  5. One thing many clubs are doing these days are holding a pre-tryout camp. They're usually right before the week of tryouts and last a day or two, maybe three. Some clubs charge a small fee for them but often they are free.

    The clubs use that time as an opportunity to see more of players than they get during tryouts. If they see standouts during the pre camp those kids usually have an advantage during tryouts.

    It can also be a good way for players to evaluate a club, see how the coaches run the drills and how they interact with the players.




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