Dr. Dina Gentile
Youth Soccer Insight: Preparation for Tryouts: From a Parent’s Perspective
Our jobs as parents are to support and to listen to our children after an intense evaluation by coaches.
On the East Coast, May and June are typical tryout months for many towns and clubs. Spring season is underway and our soccer players are getting familiar with the training schedule and their teammates. Tryouts can be a stressful time in a young athlete’s soccer career. Parents play a central role in creating a positive, nurturing, and healthy environment for their children when they are faced with being tested or evaluated for a sport team.
Spring Soccer has arrived and plannng is required! Tryouts can be a stressful time for players and their families.
For athletes encountering tryouts for the first time, we must recognize that this a new experience and the athlete has no prior information to compare it to. As parents it is important to find out as much as possible about the structure of the tryout.
For instance, you may want to determine the following elements associated with tryouts to ensure a smooth experience:
Time: Pre-determine what time should you arrive to the tryout site. Always allow for extra time in case you need to pin on a number to the back of the shirt, or take a photo for the player pass.
Field: The tryout site may be on a field which you are unfamiliar, be sure to plan out the travel distance and where to park prior to the tryout date.
Clothing: Many towns and clubs want players to avoid wearing bright colors or team jerseys. Find out exactly what each player needs to wear to avoid having your child standout during this process.
Equipment: Typically all players are required to come dressed and ready to play. In some cases warm-ups or stretching are not part of the tryout sessions. Be sure to bring and label your child’s soccer ball. In most cases, players will bring their ball to each of the tryout stations. Water is essential for a player during physical activity. Pack a water bottle and bring extra for the ride home.
Footwear: Tryouts are not the best time to buy new cleats for your player. Be sure your child is wearing comfortable shoes because they will be asked to perform many cuts and runs during a high-energy tryout.
Length of Tryouts: Many towns and clubs will post the duration of tryouts on the website. Parents should find time to explain to the player how long they will be playing and any details on stations or scrimmages that may be part of the tryouts. The key is to share as much information as possible in order to limit any confusion and to prepare your child for the events of the day.
Once the tryout starts, just like in game situations, it is up to the soccer player to perform and word hard in the activities. Parents can show signs of support with a thumb up or a wave but understand the players are anxious and want to stay focused on the tasks they are trying to perform.
At the end of the tryouts parents must be supportive regardless of what you saw or thought you saw on the field. Athletes know when they had a good day and when they had a bad day.
Our jobs as parents are to support and to listen to our children after such an intense evaluation by coaches.
Hopefully, most team and player selections consider more than just tryouts to place athletes on teams. Looking at the coach evaluations from a season long perspective aids in making players who may not perform well under pressure feel better about the tryouts. Each club or town program is different in the ways they place and announce the team selections to players. Parents can ask when results will be shared with families in order to put the athlete at ease with the process.
Soccer is soccer regardless of the team one gets selected to play for. Sport provides so many life lessons and tryout results are one of them. In life as in soccer, there are disappointments. When players expect to make a team and do not, we as parents need to use that disappointment as a teachable moment. Even though players work hard and play well, they may not get the result they had hoped for. Players who can deal with that disappointment and get right back on to the field with no hard feelings will have many positive experiences and be well adjusted in life and on that soccer field.
Related Article: Learning Valuable Lessons in Soccer from Other Sports and Dr. Dina Gentile's Column
SoccerNation News is proud to welcome Dr. Dina Gentile as our newest contributing writer. Dr. Gentile is a Professor of Sport Management at Endicott College. A volunteer youth coach herself, Dr. Gentile understands from both practical and theorectical experience what happens on the soccer field.
Gentile has also coached the Endicott College Soccer Team for 11 years. Gentile is the owner/director of Precision Soccer, LLC, which operates camps, clinics, and coach education training throughout the year. She is a former All-American and Academic All-American at Adelphi University. Gentile has been inducted into the Adelphi University and Endicott College Halls of Fame. She is the Pre Kindergarten and Kindergarten Coordinator for Beverly Youth Soccer Association. This season she is the proud coach of her daughters 1st Grade team in the Wilmington Youth Soccer Association. Gentile is also a Soccer Ambassador for Korrio.