Here are 3 things you can do this spring to help your daughter prepare for soccer tryouts
Another question often get from soccer parents is “which teams or clubs should we plan to tryout for?” I advise people to choose a team based on the coach, not the club name. Club experiences can vary greatly, and it usually comes down to the coach and team experience. You can read more about why you should choose a soccer team based on the coach, not the club here.
Tryout weekend is a beast in and of itself, and to best prepare for it, you’ll want to have a plan. Knowing what teams you want to tryout for is key. It starts with exploring what team options are out there, and researching which might be a good fit. As soon as you think your daughter might want a different experience next year, you’ll want to start taking notes on which teams she might want to tryout for.
To get started in finding the right soccer team for your daughter, identify teams she might want to tryout for (see below), and reach out to those coaches / managers to introduce yourself and see if your daughter might be able to attend a practice this spring. If the coach isn’t planning on adding new players, she will let you know – this will save you time and make prioritizing tryouts easier.
1. Do Your Homework – Pre-Shop Teams/Clubs Before Tryout Time
Before tryouts, it helps to identify possible teams/clubs for your daughter. Doing a little bit of research up front will hopefully make tryout weekend go a little more smoothly. It’s ideal to start this process sometime during the spring season so that your daughter might have the opportunity to attend a “trial practice” with a potential new team – see #2 below. If it’s too late for that this year, you might use it in the future.
So, where do you start in deciding which teams to check out and potentially tryout for? Do some research and help narrow down the list of target tryout teams. If you are able to create the option for your daughter to attend trial practices in the spring, chances are, you’ll have a good idea of where you’ll spend your time come tryout weekend.
There are so many soccer clubs (Rush, KC Athletics, Sporting, etc) and IP teams (independent premier) in the Kansas City metro area. You can decide how important practice location is to you. You can find IP teams in the area affiliated with neighboring schools; or check out age-group offerings for the bigger KC soccer clubs. You can research how the teams do in tournaments and league play by accessing online standings. For the more hands-on researcher, you can physically go and watch a team play by finding their game schedule online. Tournaments are great for this. You can see first hand what it would look like to be a spectator (parent) or player on that team.
Here are a few ways to start identifying possible soccer teams for your daughter:
- Take notes of other teams when your daughter plays. Notice the opposing coaches, but don’t forget to look around you too. There might be a nearby game featuring two teams in your daughter’s age group.
- Were there teams your daughter has played and you remember thinking: now, that’s a well coached team! Add those teams to the list.
- Look at league standings (this is great at tournaments, too) – check out some top or mid-tier teams in both your team division and the division above your current team, and check their schedule. Go see them play. See if any feel like a good fit for your family.
- Are there coaches that coach multiple teams in an age group? Perhaps she has a D1 and D3 team? If you like the coach/playing style, this could be interesting…if she’s like me, that coach will run her teams like a pool and let the D3 players needing more challenge “play up” to get some experience with the D1 team.
2. Give Coaches An Opportunity At Their Own Team Practice – Outside Of A Tryout Scenario – To See Your Daughter Play
After you’ve identified possible teams, now it’s time to hit the phones, er, email. Whatever your personal preference. Look up the team manager or coach (contact info is often listed on the league or tournament website) and ask if they would be open to your daughter attending a practice with the team.
As a coach, I loved getting to see a player involved in my team practice / natural environment before tryouts. Without the weight of a tryout, we could all see if it would be a good fit for the player, her family and our team. If it wasn’t a good fit, I would let that family know so they could plan their upcoming soccer tryout weekend accordingly. If I really wasn’t sure, but truly would want to see her tryout with anybody else that shows up – I would encourage her to come to tryouts. If it was a good fit and I definitely wanted to add her to our team, I would extend her a spot on the team. I would also invite her to continue to practice with us leading up to tryouts; I always encouraged players to finish out the season with their current team, however.
If you can create this kind of opportunity for your daughter to trial practice with a team before tryouts, I recommend taking it. If anything, it will help you plan your soccer tryout weekend!
3. Continue Working On Your Game
Players can always get better. Don’t let “because I’m trying out for another team next year” keep your daughter from making the most of the rest of her time with her team.
Identify areas she needs to work on. Have this conversation with her. Involve her in the process. How will you get better? At tryouts, a coach might ask her what her strengths and weaknesses are. If she’s already identified them and can tell the coach how she’s working on getting better, that’s a great sign for a coach.
Even if you’re in a horrible team situation at the end of the year, make the most of it. Use this as a teachable moment to talk about grit, perseverance and the silver lining. Accept the challenge, keep a positive attitude and rise above it.
About Coach Carrie
Coach Carrie Robinson is the founder and director of Finesse Soccer. She coached two girls teams from 2008-2016, choosing to “retire” from the club soccer scene after she became pregnant with her second child so she could spend more time with her family and her other baby, Finesse Soccer.
Carrie holds several coaching licenses including Advanced National Diploma, USSF “D” License, and the Urban Soccer Diploma. She is also a certified coaching instructor for United Soccer Coaches.