Lace up those boots, tryouts are officially here Woo hoo!

For those seasoned veterans who have participated in tryouts before, you are probably used to the process. However, you might notice some MAJOR differences in the way Sporting Tampa Bay conducts tryouts compared to what other clubs do.

Let us explain..

Generally, at tryouts a mass hoard of people show up for a single time slot, you check in at registration, get a number to place on your player then you find your age group, this part is pretty standard. Here is the point you will notice some differences. Let’s walk through the normal first.

Other Clubs Tryouts:

A tryout at another club generally looks something like this. They sort the players by size (because we all know the bigger the player the better right) Put somewhere between 30-40 players on the same field and begin scrimmaging for the next 60-90 min while the coaches stand off to the side not really interacting or instructing the players.

Sound familiar, yeah we know. There are SOOOO many things wrong with this approach in our opinion, however this is exactly how most clubs run tryouts.

Some of you are asking yourself these questions right now:

  • What is wrong with this? This is how it has always been done.
  • Why do so many clubs use this format if it’s so wrong?
  • What is a better alternative?

We are so glad you asked, here are just a few concerns we have with this format.

  • This format doesn’t allow you to get a complete picture of each player’s individual strengths and weaknesses, skills or abilities.
  • This format allows you to “Get Lost in The Crowd” being part of a large group of 30-40 players it’s hard to stand out, especially if the coaches had a list of kids they wanted to focus on going into tryouts (which they do)
  • This format allows for less opportunities or touches on the ball. What happens if you are playing right wing but every time your team gets the ball it goes down the left side? You might be the most skilled player at your position but if never touch the ball or get an opportunity how will you ever make the team?
  • This format is usually loosely run like a pickup game and forces players to play in positions they have never or don’t generally play, just so the coaches can load balance team numbers.
  • This format doesn’t leave room for errors or mistakes. Because of the limited touch opportunities, you are expected to be perfect every second on the field.
  • This format generally has a huge player to coach ratio. You might be lucky to get 2-3 coaches per large group of kids creating upwards of a 20:1 player to coach ratio.
  • This format is usually very subjective to the opinions of few coaches that are there. Providing no real KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and generally having no real way to measure each player against themselves or a pre-established benchmark.
  • This format usually does not have the over site of a Club DOC or Director. They are either walking around all over trying to get a fractional glance at the different fields or they are laser focused on a single group ignoring the rest of the kids. This doesn’t allow for them to give quality feedback to the coaches during the selection process and leaving most of the selection of the players only to the head coach.

We could go on, but hopefully now you can see some of the major flaws in the current soccer club tryout model.

Sporting Tampa Bay Tryouts:

Now we want to walk you through what to expect at our tryouts and how they will differ from the old school format mentioned above. Also, we will hopefully answer those that had the question “what is a better alternative?”

  • After registration and being sorted into your age groups you will then be split up into groups of 10 players.
  • Three groups of 10 players will then be assigned to a full-size field (30 players per full field)
  • Each full-size field will be set up with 3 rotating stations, each one focusing on different aspects. This will allow us a more complete view of each player’s individual abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Groups will spend roughly 10-12 minutes at each station working on specific KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) Since we will be only running 10-12 min stations, we expect each player to give their max effort at each station.
  • The 3 stations will be running simultaneously, meaning each group of 10 players will all be active at the same time. No standing around.
  • The 3 stations running will be:
    • Station 1 – Technical Analysis
    • Station 2 – Speed and Agility
    • Station 3 – 5v5 small sided games (each group will do this station twice)
  • At the Technical Analysis station, each player will be critiqued on their ability to control the ball through different scenarios.
  • At the Speed and Agility station, each player will be critiqued on their ability to accelerate, reach top speed, change direction with speed and maneuver obstacles at speed.
  • At the 5v5 station, each player will be critiqued on their ability to impact the game.
  • Each station will be run by a different coach looking for specific KPI’s. This will allow us a Player to coach ratio of never more than 10:1 and each player to be looked at by at least 3 different coaches, giving each player optimal opportunity to be seen by multiple coaches and never getting lost in the crowd.
  • Either the Sporting Tampa Bay Director of Player Development or Technical Director will be assigned to each field observing all groups allowing them to provide specific feedback on each player to the coaches during the selection process.
  • Tryouts will last 1 hour. Each group will participate in each station once except for the 5v5 station which will be twice.
  • At the end of tryouts players will receive some short instruction from the coaches and will be released to go home. The coaches and directors will do a full debrief at the end of each night regarding the selection of the players.
  • Each player is encouraged to participate in both nights of tryouts at their age group unless specifically instructed differently from a coach or director.
  • Decisions and offers will be made after the coaches and directors have had an opportunity to observe all players at an age group and fully debrief on each players performance during tryouts.
  • Each player who receives an offer will do so without high pressure scarcity tactics from us. We want each player to make an educated decision on the best place for his or her development. Read more on that here The Dreaded Deadline
  • One additional perk of this format is, it’s also safer as it limits groups to 10 or less. Keeping the kids safe during this return to play phase is of the upmost importance to us.

Hopefully by now you can see just how different we operate. We decided to take things a bit further and ask Director of Player Development, Stuart Campbell, why such a big difference and what they look for in each player with this format?, this is what he had to say.

“Since we are a player centric and not team centric club, our primary focus is on individual player development. We feel this format better allows us to give the individual an opportunity to perform and be seen. Really showing us what they can do.

It also gives each player greater involvement in the game, more touches on the ball and most importantly more enjoyment through such a stressful process.

The benefits to us as a club are, it allows us to really get a better view into each players abilities and fitness level. Ultimately allowing us to make educated selections on who are the most complete players and not just the biggest ones.”

 We left Stuart with one final question, What does the ideal Sporting Tampa Bay player look like?

“There are so many different things that we look at and that go into this, but to narrow it down a bit, what the ideal Sporting Tampa Bay player means to me is…

A technically competent player that plays a certain style of play and regardless of what kit they wear, can be identified as a Sporting Player.

Some of the things that go into this are, a player with a positive attitude that leads their team. A player that works hard each time they touch the pitch always striving to be better. A player who listens and is coachable. A player who remains calm on the ball and uses their vision and abilities to play through tough situations. Really it’s a player who wants to win and makes an impact on each game.”

That just leave us with two final things.

First, if you have not yet registered for tryouts do it today Here – REGISTER NOW

Second, best of luck and we look forward to seeing you at tryouts. Schedule below