Thursday, January 24, 2013

Youth Soccer: How to Make an ODP team (Part 2)

If you do not think that your kid made a team after tryouts, do you prepare them for it? I did.

My daughter, CC, started the tryout process for the Ohio ODP team (Olympic Development Program) in November.

The process started with fall training / tryouts for the District 1 team. Ohio has three Districts. The initial District tryouts / training took place over two weekends in November (outdoors) and one weekend in December or January (indoors). 

The District 1, November tryouts were held from 9 to 11:45 am, in a town about 30 minutes from our house. 

My daughter, CC, and I showed up about 30 minutes early to sign in and get warmed up. I waited in a long line registration line while CC put her cleats and shin pads on. When I got to the front of the line, the admin volunteer told me that the player needs to sign in herself. She told me that they want self-sufficient, independent players. I retreated to my daughter's location and explained the situation. I was happy that overbearing parents would not be tolerated. It was a signal to me that talent would be the driver of the roster selections and perhaps politics would not be a factor.

CC eventually signed up and received a number to pin to her shirt. I helped her affixed the #161 to the back of her tee-shirt before she ran over to the goalie training / tryout field. 

She approached 24 goalies by my count. I was quickly assessed the competition and quickly noticed that every single one was bigger than CC. CC looked tiny but she has always been the smallest player her teams so it was not a surprise. Still, I began to get a bit concerned because some of the girls were considerably bigger. I turned to another dad and asked if all of these girls were 12 years old. He comforted me when he mentioned that there were 5 groups of girls vying to make 5 teams (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002). I quickly did the math and assumed that about 5 or 6 were in CC's 2000 age grop. CC told me later that, there were 11 goalies in the 2000 class hoping to make the district team and might be more because some teams had club matches that day.

There were 5 goalie trainers to manage the tryout. Each one carried a clipboard to collect notes on a player information chart. The trainers ran drills after drill and did so with intensity and purpose. They evaluated and taught at the same time. The girls worked hard for well over an hour. CC had experience with all of the drills, so she had no problems. I noticed that a few of the girls struggled with the fast pace of the drills. From a technical standpoint, I thought that CC did very well.

The field players went through similar paces on separate fields near by. From time to time, I roamed around to see CC's teammates.  Eventually, the goalies were told to join the field players for their age groups to tend goal for some shooting drills and small sided games. The goalies stood behind the goal and rotated in while the trainers with the clipboards kept watch.

The training schedule was repeated Saturday and Sunday for two weeks in November. During the last 5 minutes of the last November tryout, CC suffered a very severe ankle sprain. It happened so late, that she did not notify the trainers. I wrote about that story in an earlier post. As luck would have it, the next tryout was weeks away. CC wore a boot and was cleared to play again the week of the next tryout in December.

In December, the training / tryout moved indoors to a facility in Columbus, Ohio about 2 hours north from our home town. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions were a bit shorter than the November sessions, but they were organized and conducted in a similar manner. CC and I drove up and back each day. I enjoyed the time in the car with my girl. CC's ankle was sore, but she hid it well from the trainer / evaluators.

After the final session in December, the coaching staff announced that the roster for the district teams would be selected on January 18th.

On the way home, I ask CC if she thought she did ok. She responded with a confident yes. I thought that she did well, but I was convinced that the coaching staff would overlook a goalie who was so small. I began to prepare CC for the inevitable. She has made every team that she has ever tried out for, so I wanted to prepare her.

The festival team was posted on the Ohio South Soccer website on Friday night at 9pm. On Saturday morning, I opened the website and looked for CC's name. As I expected it was not there. I looked for the names of other players that I knew. To my surprised, I did not recognize a single name. 

Then I realized I was looking at the wrong age group. I clicked on the 2000 team roster and started to see the names that I expected. Then I saw a name I did not expect to see. CC was listed. She had made it past the first phase. She will compete against the other two districts in what Ohio ODP calls the Festival Weekend. 

The Main Point

Do not prepare your kids for the worst before a tryout because that would introduce self-doubt. You can, however, prepare them for the disappointment after the tryout is complete, but expect the best to keep their confidence up. I did all of this except, I did not expect the best. CC surprised me yet again.


  1. How I wish our ODP tryout process was what you described. We live in southeastern PA and my daughter was selected to bypass the phase 1 tryout from the ODP camp this past summer. Phase two was two 1.5 hour small sided game sessions and that was it.Unfortunately, there were only two evaluators for 40+ girls and they seemed to spend more time chatting with each other than evaluating. I'm disappointed my kid didn't make the cut but more disappointed that it didn't seem like a fair (to any of the girls) and thorough evaluation. Maybe someone should have prepared me to not expect the best of the process.

    1. The best advice I can give, if your girl is young to keep trying. Soccer players develop at different times. Some advance quickly then level off. Some start of slowly, but rocket past others as they mature. Some burn out, some get hurt and some specialize in other sports. It is constantly changing.

      BTW - My niece played in the Southeasten PA - ODP program before she went to play in college. She was a goalie (Unionville HS).

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  2. Unionville?! They were our rivals in high school! I went to Avon Grove...many, many years ago.
    My daughter is the hardest worker I know and all that hard work will provide her wtih opportunities for great things in the future. She's only 12 so there is plenty of time until she is old enough for the world cup. :-)
    It's okay she didn't make it this year as we got to save a big chunk of money...which can go towards soccer camp this summer!

    1. Perhaps your daughter and my daughter will play together on the USA Women's Nat'l Team someday. Until then good luck.

  3. Hello! I just read both of your articles about ODP. I'm the same age as CC and I'm also a goalie! When I was eleven I tried out for ODP Florida, not knowing what I was going into. The whole thing was strictly politics. It didn't matter if you were good or not. If you knew the goalie coach that was evaluating, you made the team. I didn't have a lot of luck that day because the other two girls trying out for the 2000 team played for him. I'm not trying to sound conceded or anything, but they weren't good. As you can guess, I didn't make the team. It broke my heart not making it because every single team I tried out for, I made. I've been an A team player my whole life. I haven't tried out for ODP ever since. So now it's July 2015 and ODP tryouts are coming up in a couple months and I really want to tryout. I've switched teams, and the team that I am on now is extremely good! We are possibly going to the WAGS tournament and CASL. My confidence is through the roof. Thinking about ODP tryouts are making me a little nervous though.. I want to tryout, but I'm not sure if I should. I know the tryouts are rigged, and there are people that have been doing it for years now. So what are the odds of me making it? I only have one glimpse of hope at the moment. The goalie that made the team has a bad back injury right now, and most likely will not be able to tryout. There's another location that I could tryout at, but it's a couple hours away. If I tryout there, I have a better chance of moving on to the next round. What do you think I should do? Have any advice for me/ words of wisdom? Thank you!

  4. Hi, my name is Cheryl and I am wondering what the goalkeepers do at tryouts since I am going to be trying out in a few weeks. I play on a D1 team and my team will be advancing to the state cup/scl competition this fall so I am pretty good. I was just wondering what it takes to make the ODP cause that is my goal since I eventually want to play on the US Womens National Team.

  5. Hi, my name is Cheryl and I am wondering what the goalkeepers do at tryouts since I am going to be trying out in a few weeks. I play on a D1 team and my team will be advancing to the state cup/scl competition this fall so I am pretty good. I was just wondering what it takes to make the ODP cause that is my goal since I eventually want to play on the US Womens National Team.

  6. Thanks a lot for this precious soccer (football) experienced post. I was excited seeing CC's efforts and inspiration. Also glad to read the details about how to make ODP team. This was very useful read surely.

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