Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why do we have fall tryouts for U9 to U12 Soccer ?

Patience is a virtue.

Something happened in youth soccer in Niagara about 12 years ago for players U12 and below.  Fall tryouts.

The one season ended and we immediately gathered the group together for tryouts.

This topic came up again speaking to my friend from our neighbouring district. Everybody wonders why we do it, but we keep doing it.

I am not criticizing people who do fall tryouts for younger teams.  I started doing them when it
became part of the scene.  My brother does them.  My friends conduct fall tryouts and so do their friends.  But why? Who's idea was this?
"The Learn to Train" stage is where that potential has to be nurtured, not snuffed out.

I don't remember which club started fall tryouts, but it happened and all of a sudden everybody was worried about losing their kids to another club.

Forget LTPD for a minute.  Think logically.

Scenario 1.  It's October 1st.  You gather the 13 players from your current team (soccer 3x/week playing stronger teams) plus 20+ players who just completed a house league season (soccer 2x/week ... maybe).  The gap between them will show.  And if the selected players train during the winter while the other do not, the gap will grow.  What does that do to your player pool with each passing year?

Scenario 2.  30 players show up to your fall tryouts.  You pick 14 players on October 1st.  If you decided to train all 30 of those players in the same program from November to March, do you think you would pick the same 14 players on April 1?  If not, how could you claim to have picked the best players for your upcoming season?

Scenario 3.  You released young players last October.  You haven't involved any of them in your team's program since then.  Will anything change during the next set of fall tryouts?

(Please have the decency to have your tryouts AFTER your end-of-year team party)

Now think about LTPD.

If you are experienced with the younger age groups, you know players U9-U12 change so much over six/seven months that it doesn't make sense to roll the dice that far in advance of your season.  The "Learn to Train" age group is about learning, discovery and development.

Sometimes a coach releases a player but says they think they have potential.  "The Learn to Train" stage is where that potential has to be nurtured, not snuffed out.

Here is another question I ask myself in reflection of my fall tryouts: why the rush?  What did we work on over the winter that couldn't have included more players? As my friend said, it's not like you're working on tactics or set pieces over the winter. Off season training was for time on the ball in very small groups.

Now, we have another "disturbance in the force".  Hockey has started "A" tryouts in the fall for young players.   How many of those released players were one set of power skating sessions away from changing their game?

In reflection, as a "teacher" of soccer at those younger ages, I can't think of a good reason to have fall
tryouts for young players.  There are a lot of competitive reasons.  There is the rationale that families want to firm up their child's soccer for the follow summer as soon as possible, but that's just impatience.

There is the fear of losing your kids to other teams that have fall tryouts.  A lot of coaches feel pressured to run tryouts to keep their program alive.

If you are patient, people will tell you it's not fair to delay your tryouts because released players will miss the other team's tryouts in hopes of a travel team spot.  So do they want you to rush your tryouts so they can catch the end of another team's if you release them?

I resented fall tryouts when I was coaching the younger ages.  I resent them now and I don't agree with them.  But I understand why they happen and don't blame coaches for conducting them. If I was still coaching a youth team I would probably have fall tryouts as well.

If fall tryouts are deemed by the federation to not support the overall development of the "Learn to Train" development stage, who will make the first move and who will co-operate?

Bring back spring tryouts.