From Tryouts to "Training" pt. 2

To continue the discussion from part 1...

In addition to seeing how players react to different input from me, I want to see how they react without me standing over them. The way I gauged this was teaching the group more directly about the type of movement I wanted to see from them supporting in the 4v0 rondo. I wanted to see good timing, and quick steps to support. They player at the top of the video in the below clip is the best example of what I was looking for:

I can;t expect the players to do it perfectly and with the required intensity right away, but once I've helped them understand what I want, the expectations are raised. I used this as an opportunity to gauge both their work habits, and gain a (very small) glimpse into their tactical awareness. Some players would work very hard after I demonstrated or gave them extra coaching, and would then slack off as soon as I wasn't standing right next to them. Others were working hard whether I was standing right next to them, or on the far side of the area. If a player is only working best when the coach is standing right next to them, that is a big red flag for me. In a typical training environment, I won't be able to babysit each kid and coax the best out of them during every single minute. 

The 4v1 rondos, gave me a chance to see how the players put together the passing, receiving, and movement aspects of 4v0 under pressure. As I mentioned above, knowing where and when to move in even a simple 4v1 rondo can prove challenging for players of all ages.  A player only has to process whether they should move left or right, and when, while only being pressured by a single defender. Some instantly understood the transfer from 4v0, and some needed extra guidance. The players that understood where and when to move to support their teammates consistently found more time on the ball than those who did. And in the 4v1 rondo, the above mentioned point about work rate could be combined with this tactical understanding of movement. The players who possessed both traits would consistently offer themselves in the correct position and correct moment, whether or not they received the ball.

While it is context dependent, if a player couldn't put together a good performance in the 4v0 and 4v1 rondos in our 20 minute session, it was a major red flag for me. The players I'm working with are going to be expected to compete for spots in the Earthquake Academy within the next year or so. And while there is a lot of coaching and learning that can happen in these two exercises, they are fairly simple. Additionally, I have a good amount of experience and success teaching these to players from 6 year olds new to the game to my men's league teammates, so I know that I'm competent at getting my ideas across. This manner of conducting tryouts is essentially a small slice of a typical practice I would run, and in my experience, can help identify which players will and won't be a good fit in my team.