Tryout Season for Club Soccer is Upon Us.

This will be a 4 part series.  In today's posting we will look at tryouts in a general sense. There's something here for player, parent and coach alike.  Following installments will look at things from a player / parent perspective followed by a look at the process from a coaches perspective. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

See also The Coach's Perspective on Tryouts and Tryout Questions for Parents and Players and College Soccer Scholarships: The Facts

What You Need to Know About Tryouts

When true tryouts are held there exists the possibility of jubilation or heartbreak for players. There can be much agonizing for coaches or the selection committee as well. Such is the struggle to organize competitive youth soccer teams, be they of the club or high school variety.

Many players and parents are driven to tryout by misguided motivations that arise in part from misconceptions based on misinformation about the return on investment derived from playing club soccer or doing so for a particular club. This can lead to disenchantment with the experience of playing club soccer and disillusionment with "soccer" in general as individuals and organizations alike fail to deliver what player and parent expected no matter how unrealistic those expectations might be in the light of reality.

My advice to players, parents and coaches alike is to go into the club soccer tryout experience with open eyes and open minds. Players and parents must realize that coaches are not infallible and beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. They owe it to themselves to investigate the club,what its stated mission is and to verify the truthfulness of its claims.  Maybe even more important is the player / parent selection of a coach.  Yes, the selection or tryout process is a two way street.

The information provided in this article is meant to help players, parents and coaches alike negotiate the selection process. This will not attempt to be an all-inclusive presentation, merely an informational one to start you along your way through the process.

Fiction: Coaches can easily and quickly identify the best players
FACT:  The ability to properly select a team is dependent on a coaches experience and motivation. The ability to discern promise in a players ability to read the game and problem solve on the field can be over shadowed in favor of selecting aggressive larger, faster players capable of dominating not through skill but by physical characteristics.

Fiction: The purpose of tryouts is to find the "best", most competitive individual players.
FACT: The selection process should be about placement of players on teams with other players of similar skills, similar passion for the game and a similar commitment to training.

Fiction:  Only the very best players are selected.
FACT: The best or most competitive team in a clubs hierarchy should be comprised of the players that play best together which does not necessarily include all the best individual players.

Fiction:  Politics do not play a factor in the selection process or determination of positions played.
FACT: The coach's son, the board member's kid or child of a wealthy sponsor may get a roster spot and a favorable positional assignment. It happens. You might also see an average player make the team mainly because he can provide rides for a "star" player. This is one of the ugly truths of club soccer.

Fiction:  Coaches always want "star" players for their teams.
FACT:  Some star players are primadonnas and others have nightmarish parents who are never happy or satisfied. They are annoying to coaches, players and other parents alike not to mention referees and opposing teams.  Many intelligent coaches avoid these headaches at all costs knowing team chemistry can be far more valuable than the constant distraction of a me-first  player / family.

Fiction: There is nothing a player can do at tryouts to improve his standing
FACT: It is true that better skilled and more athletic players have an advantage at tryouts, but there is always room for an average player who listens attentively,  follows and carries out instructions well, demonstrates a desire to learn, a willingness to be coached and a passion for the game

Fiction: The best players should tryout for the best teams.
FACT: Players and parents should seek out the trainers best suited to the players learning style. Records mean little when looking at individual development. Some of the best coaches and trainers can be found working with average to below average "teams" in terms of records for that is where they are most needed.

Fiction: The best coaches do not having vacancies on their teams
FACT: Most rosters tend to be fluid with a few players going and coming each registration period.  Family transfers due to work, injuries, decisions to leave the sport or to concentrate on another sport all create openings that need to be filled.

MAJOR FICTION: Playing for a given coach or a given club team will guarantee me or my child a college scholarship. 
FACT: Just recently the NCAA has allowed women's teams to give a total of 15 scholarships for a roster of 30 players. Most girls will not receive a full ride in college for playing soccer. Men's teams are limited to funding 9.9 total scholarships for a roster of 30 players. Colleges do NOT have to fund all scholarships they are entitled to. It is extremely rare for a male to receive a full ride for playing soccer in college. The reality is a college or university can likely offer 1/4 of an athletic scholarship to any one player.

MAJOR FACT: If paying for college is the goal you would be far better off investing the money you would spend on club soccer in the stock market. This is where disillusionment often sets in for parents. After they pay anywhere from $500 to $2000.00 per season over the course of years to have their child play club soccer they have virtually nothing to show for it in terms of college tuition.  Sure, colleges will show interest in your child if (s)he is any good at all.  My youngest son is currently a sophomore in high school, does not play for a big name club and receives letters, emails and other correspondence from college coaches on an almost daily basis.  We are flattered, but know his grades in school will bring him far more in tuition monies than his ability on a soccer field ever will. The cost for his club soccer?  $200.00 a year. This includes uniforms, player pass, league fees, tournament fees, referee fees - everything except travel costs.  Those big clubs charging 2-10 times more often come with hidden costs such as uniform fees, tournament fees and the like. Your fees to the club go to the coach / trainers of the team. Investigate before signing up with a club just because you believe it is prestigious. Know what you are getting into and find the right environment for you.


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