One of the biggest mistakes trainers are guilty of when holding a soccer trial is attempting to coach the players who are trying out. The main purpose of having a trial is to assess the skill and technical ability of the players.
This doesn’t mean you just sit back and watch. Offering occasional feedback when it’s appropriate shows the trialists you have an interest in their growth and development. The added advantage of giving feedback is it allows you to observe the players reactions to instructions, feedback and constructive criticism.
If some of the trialists make it into your squad, you may end up coaching them for a long period of time. It’s extremely worthwhile having an early perception of how responsive they are to feedback. Take for instance there is one vacancy left in your team and you have a choice of three players to fill it, they all have equal ability – which player should you choose? Responsiveness and attitude to feedback are an important part of the agenda in soccer trials.
As each trial session finishes, always ensure you thank all participants for carrying out instructions and for delivering their best efforts.
It’s a good idea to thank the trialists’ parents for their support and for bringing them to the session. Assemble the parents and trialists together before they leave the field and ask if they have any questions they’d like to put to you. The most common question is ‘When will we find out if we’ve made it into the squad?’ Tell them you’ll let them know as soon as all trials are finished.
It’s beneficial to watch the trialists over a period of weeks, whilst they work alongside the regular squad. As discussed in a previous article, this reduces the pressure and stress of a one-off try-out and should allow the players to demonstrate their real talent over a longer stretch.
Assessing and choosing trialists
A well-organised trial is the initial step toward selecting new players for your squad. As the players demonstrate their abilities, your task is to keep a close watch over them to establish which of them deserves to play in your squad.
Should you make the decision as to who joins your squad by yourself or should you enlist some help? Bear in mind the following issues:
- Someone has to be accountable for the final decision
- If coaching assistants are part of your team, it’s only right they should have some input. After all, they will be coaching the new members too.
- If you’re holding a large trial, logistically some help may be necessary.
If there are several coaching assistants helping out, ensure they get to have a look at all the trialists. This is valuable for the overall assessment of the players. If they only get to see a percentage of the players, their appraisals won’t be as comprehensive or accurate as possible.
When using assistants, get them to participate in the set-up of the trial. This demonstrates to the players that the assistants are onboard and not just evaluators with clipboards. This benefits you as well as it allows you to spend a little time with the players instead of organising drills, games and exercises.
Always be consistent when evaluating players whether it’s carried out alone or with the aid of assistants.
Draw up a list of skills you’d like your assistants to keep an eye out for. These include:
- Qualities in one against one situations, both defensively and in attack.
Evaluation of technical ability is vital and the points listed above should provide you and your assistants a good starting base. Start creating a profile for each player by marking these abilities out of ten. Provide the players with sufficient scope to enable them to exhibit all the technical abilities.
In the fourth part of this series find out the key skills you should evaluate the trialists on and how to keep assessments consistent.