Let me start with this before we jump into today’s topics…
Soccer (and sports in general), are all about opportunities and timing. So… How do you create those opportunities?
When it comes to college soccer, coaches are always recruiting and on the hunt for new talent. Your main goal is to find a way to put yourself out there and in front of college coaches’ eyes. Successfully doing so comes with a lot of work. You will have to send emails, create a highlight(s), (if you haven’t yet & are not sure how to do so, check out my free training guide on how to create your own highlight), attend specific ID camps that you identify as a possible fit, go on recruiting visits, and so much more…
I am starting with this statement because although it might seem obvious to some, many athletes and parents forget that success only comes with hustle and hard work. You will never receive an offer by just showing up and playing.
Let me share a story from my academic days (feels like forever ago…) Hopefully it helps you understand the message I am trying to share about creating opportunities and finding your timing:
At 14 years old, I was playing for Le Havre Athletic Club. At the time, it was one of the top five academies in France, if not Europe. I played next to some of the best players in today’s game, players like Paul Pogba, Riyad Mahrez, Benjamin Mendy, to name a few. Needless to say, scouts from all over the world were always present and watching our club.
It wasn’t much of a surprise when we were told that a Manchester City scout was there to watch and make an offer to one of our players that had attracted the attention of many top English clubs.
Not even five minutes into the game and that player went down with an ACL tear… season over. One in a million career, probably over too.
A fresh, hungry kid two years younger than the rest of us who we all knew would become a star, comes into the game and balls out.
Want to take a guess what happened? He had 2 goals and 2 assists, we won 4-2. He signs a contract with Manchester City the next day, and is flown across the sea six months later to Manchester while the initial player was still recovering from his injury and just starting to run again.
You see what I mean by opportunities and timing? You never know who is watching, you never know who is interested, and you never know when an opportunity will arise… Moral of the story, always be ready to play and give it your all every time you step onto the pitch!
Let’s talk about tryouts:
I don’t know about you but I am right in the middle of tryout season and everyone is freaking out. It is total panic all around, from parents to kids to coaches.
I have spent the last week making phone call after phone call reassuring parents that things will work out for the best, explaining the choices I have made regarding next year’s roster, and trying to explain to new players why they should join my club and team.
I get it… parents want their child to make the premier “A” team!
But let me break it for you… the numbers or letters next to the team names are bogus. It really does not matter or say anything about you as a player.
During tryouts, here are some things to think about:
- The chemistry with the coach and the message he is passing on to you when offering a roster spot.
- Do you have an overall positive feeling?
- Is the coach’s only purpose to win? Or to develop your kid as a player and a person? Helping them become the best version of themselves on and off the field.
- Is your kid going to be challenged?
Those are the questions that matter. Not… “Will my kid play for the “first” team?”
At the end of the day, if you remember one thing from this post it is this:
No coach, team, or situation is going to be perfect, but if you have found a coach that loves your athlete, is helping them improve, and has a vision for your athlete and their future… I would value and treasure that.
There are so many athletes that jump from team to team, looking for just that.
How to have a “good” tryout
The answer is simple and somewhat cliché… have fun and do your thing. Tryouts should not be this huge scary event where kids are walking to the field shaking, full of anxiety and fear, or parents calling coaches worried because they don’t want their child to be cut or stuck in a lower division team.
This is what I look for when evaluating players at tryouts:
Attitude & Maturity: Can you follow directions? Can you understand drills and variations quickly? Do you pay attention when I am talking or are you messing around with your teammate? Do you work hard?
Technical Ability: How do you look when the ball is in your feet? How is your first touch? How is your passing? Can you dribble, eliminate players, or make a tackle?
Soccer I.Q: Can you play multiple positions? How do you react to specific situations? Do you make quick, smart decisions in a pinch? Can you understand/read the game well?
Parent Attitude & Family Commitment: After tryouts are over, I NEVER make an offer to a kid before talking with the parents. Why? Because I want to make sure that I am not taking on a family burden. I have a lot of things on my plate and some parents often add unnecessary problems and complicate simple things. Not something I want to deal with. I like to ask how committed the player and family are to the team (especially during the Fall) and how many games/practices they will be able to attend. I encourage most of my players to play multiple sports so I want to make sure that families are ready to work with me on scheduling conflicts if it comes to it.
As you can see, I take a lot of different factors into account when I am deciding which players I want on my team. Being stressed out and anxious does not help your child when it comes to tryouts. Have fun, play your hardest, and you will be selected to the team that is the best fit for you.
At the end of the day, if you are calling your current coach begging him not to cut your kid, or worse, sending pathetic bribing texts or suck up texts that scream desperation, it is probably because deep down you know that they should be cut. So… what is your call really about? Is it about you or about your kid? Is it about your pride or about your kid’s development? I don’t have the answer but I just want you to think about that before you decide to make that type of call or text.
Everyone has a different story and a different situation they come from, but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Trying to change the course of things is most likely only going to do a disservice to your kid.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that tryouts can indeed be a stressful time due to the uncertainty for kids and parents (and myself as well!). That is 100% understandable.
I have the “B” teams, for 2011s and 2010s boys, which we call Elite at the club I coach for, and every day I get calls from worrying parents freaking out that always ask me the same two things…
“What does my son need to do to make your team next year? We want to make sure he knows what to do…”
Guys? Really? I have been coaching the majority of those kids for two years and most of them also do private sessions with me. So that means I have seen them play at least 200 times.
Two tryout sessions an hour and a half each is not going to change my mind about how your kid plays.
The second one I get which is actually super weird (and pretty flattering…) is:
“I have spoken with *kid’s name* and we wanted to let you know that we would prefer to stay on your team rather than going up next season”.
It’s funny and it happens at least three times a year… But do you know why this happens?
For two reasons:
The first is because they know that I care. And when I say “they” I am mainly referring to the kids but also the parents… They know that all I want is to help the kids become the best version of themselves as players and as human beings. I challenge them and help them develop… Because after all, that is really what the game we love is all about. It might sound weird to hear this but I could care less about our record. In five years from now, neither me, parents, or the kids will remember our records. What I will remember, and what they will be thankful for is how they grew and the life lessons and skills learned. That is what I care about.
Of course winning is nice… I am a professional athlete, I get paid to win… I get paid to perform… but the kids don’t. Wins will come by themselves later in the season when the team gets better as individuals and as a unit.
The second reason I receive these phone calls is that most of my players play a second sport and playing for the top team requires full time commitment, which… is nearly impossible while playing multiple sports when you are 11 or 12 years old.
I am personally a HUGE fan of kids that play multiple sports… I encourage it and I think that every kid should play at least 2 sports until they reach high school or even throughout.
Here is an interesting statistic…
According to Tracking Football research, in this year’s NFL draft, 233 out of 262 (which is 88.9%) draftees participated in a sport other than football during their high school career… (Click here to check out the article)
So try not to get too caught up in letters, fancy team titles, and let your kids develop. You won’t have improved chances of earning a scholarship playing for the “A” team than you would playing for the “B” team. But you might get more play time and develop into a better player than you would have playing on the highest level team.
Even being the best player on the “A” team will not earn you the scholarship. It all boils down to opportunities.
I have experienced more of my “B team player” clients committing earlier and earn better scholarships than my “A team player” clients.
How? Because they put the work in early on and learned how to market themselves to college coaches efficiently. There are no miracles in college soccer recruiting. Very few players earn roster spots without emailing, calling, visiting, attending ID camps, etc…
There is a clear pattern and science behind earning a scholarship and that is what I teach in my college recruiting guide.
If you are strongly motivated and playing college soccer is truly your goal, I would strongly encourage you to check out the course so that I can teach you how to capitalize on your opportunities.
Until next time,