By Tyler Isaacson
Soccer teams are finally able to get outside to begin their practices in preparation for the spring season. It’s a far cry from the indoor space many of us have been confined to for the past few months here in the New York-New Jersey area.
The mood turns from a highly anticipated spring season to a fragmented mess within a few days. Barely a game or two into the season and the emails start coming in bunches . … “Tryouts for the fall 2014 season next week.” Did I just read that correctly? Maybe they meant to say next month?
It seems like each year tryouts get earlier and earlier in a race to be the first. Do clubs actually think that holding their tryouts first will yield early commitments from players who are currently in the beginning of their spring season with another team? We are talking about youth soccer, right?
The only thing an early tryout does is cause chaos for the club holding the tryouts and the players who feel they need to attend them. Rumors fly on who is leaving the team, who is getting cut and the ripple-effect travels to other teams wondering if they will have enough players to keep their squad together.
This tryout process is a mess and continues to drive coaches, players and parents out of the game. I have a solution that is currently used by another team sport that may help improve this process.
Here is how it would work:
Academy clubs hold tryouts first, at the end of the spring season. This would give players the opportunity to tryout for a higher level team if they wanted. Town club teams hold tryouts the week after Academy tryouts. If players did not make the Academy team(s) or want other options, town clubs hold their tryouts the following week. Every town club holds its tryouts during that week and players are free to jump from tryout to tryout during the week.
• This keeps the majority of the spring season intact without the tryout interference.
• Players, coaches and parents can plan their schedules around tryout week instead of going to a new tryout week after week through the spring season.
• New team rosters are announced once the tryout week is complete.
• Players are aware of when tryouts are going to be held.
This is a simple process that would be easy to implement with support from your state organization. There is nothing more disappointing for a coach to hear three weeks into the spring season that a handful of players are leaving after the season.
There is nothing worse than for a player to hear from a teammate that new players are coming to the team and they are going to be cut after the season.
The tryout process will always be a stressful time for everyone involved, but there is definitely room for improvement!
(Tyler Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience and is founder of youthsoccer101, an online coaching development tool used by over 50,000 coaches nationwide. He can be reached at email@example.com)