This week our club is holding tryouts. Over the years I've conducted tryouts for U10 boys all the way up to high school girls. I always think it's insightful (or at least entertaining!) to see what other coaches do for tryouts.

Today, my session for about twenty U10 and U11 boys (both teams will play 9v9) consisted of 4 exercises:

1. Passing Square and 8v2 Keepaway

Almost all of my sessions start with a rondo of some sort, and the ability to receive and pass is crucial. Additionally, I find it valuable to start with the easiest exercise first. You'd be surprised how many players of all ages and both genders struggle to pass the ball 12 yards under zero pressure. Also, by starting with the easiest exercise first, you can immediately identify the players NOT to watch the rest of the tryout. I've never seen a player that couldn't perform adequately in a passing square exercise go on to tear it up throughout the rest of the tryout. Today the grids were all about 12 yards by 12 yards, and were the same for both exercises.

2. 1v1s Attacking and Defending

I don't do anything too fancy with my 1v1s. Today I used a grid 12 yards wide and about 18 yards long. The attackers start with the ball, and need to dribble in control across the far side of the grid. After winning the ball, the defenders can pass in to a pug goal in either corner of the opposite side of the grid. Players stay as attackers/defenders for about 3 minutes, and then rotate to the other spot. I do this so I can get multiple looks at a particular facet of their game. For example, if a player does a ridiculous move to beat his man the first time, I'd like to get a second look right away to make sure it isn't a fluke. I use this to evaluate a player in all 4 phases of the game, and also to get a small peak into their psychology, and see how they react after winning or losing. It also let's you identify how players stack up physically.

3. 1v1s to Goal

For 1v1s to goal, it's basically a slightly larger grid than before, about 15 yards wide and 22 yards long. It's the same 1v1 drill, but now the attackers score on a goalkeeper. In addition to the uses of the previous 1v1 drill, you know get to see who your goal scorers and goal keepers are. It also forces the goal keepers to contribute with their feet in build up play.

4. Small Goals and Big Goals Scrimmages

The scrimmages were split into 5v5 to four small goals and 6v6 with goalkeepers in regular size goals. Typically I'll try to divide teams into about 3 groups in my head at this point: players for sure making the team, players for sure getting cut, and then the middle. This way, I can focus primarily on the performances of players in the middle, and really zoom in on the details. Sometimes I'll directly split teams down these lines, other times I'll put players from each category in each team. I'll be sure to put players I'm interested in into a role approximating where I see them in my team. For example, there was a player today I see as a center back, and I paired him with my current center back to see if he was a good fit there.