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"The mere fact that the player has chosen to be evaluated expresses motivation, character and
the player's desire to participate at a level that is more challenging. It would be expected that
ninety to one hundred percent would be accepted."
Recommendations from the VYSA, u9-u12 Developmental Travel

Player evaluations open a Pandora's box of problems for coaches, clubs, parents and certainly the players. This can be especially difficult when a child faces his or her first tryout for travel soccer. All of a sudden seven and eight year olds are being evaluated and selected for something that they have little understanding of. Invariably, some don't 'make the cut,' learning at this young age that 'their just not good enough.' Words like 'keep practicing, when you grow some' have little meaning when they are told that they can't play 'soccer' anymore with some of their friends. It's not long before some parents are only interested in those children who can "Help my child's game." Any one else is just baggage. That is why many State Associations are recommending that clubs employ a no-cut, inclusive policy at the youngest ages.

But sooner or later many children will face a tryout or some form of an evaluation. The previous page, evaluations made a case for using speed of play as the benchmark for evaluations. This page will provide a simple guide how individual player qualities figure into the equation. Open or print the player evaluation form in order to follow the text below.


  • Player evaluation for - Players name.
  • Date - of evaluation.
  • Contact - Parents name, phone or email.
  • ID - The players number or designation if it's a mass tryout.


  • 1, 2 and 3 with 1 as the highest and 3 as the lowest score. Everyone begins at 2, average. 80% of the players will fall in this category. This means that you only need to make a decision on 20% of the players. The top and bottom 10%. (In a 1-5 system the 2's and 4's are a cop out. They also require valuable time to decide on the nuanced difference between a 2 and a 3, 3 and a 4. Keep it simple and don't worry about so called bubble players at this point.)

The following is set up to reflect what catches the coaches eye, somewhat in order. Certain things stand out quickly and others take a little longer to see.

  1. Speed of play.
    1. Physical speed. It stands right out and there's no mistaking it. A player either has speed and/or quickness or they don't. If they don't show it, assume they don't have it.
    2. Mental speed. The general picture. How quickly do they get things, read situations. A lot of "Huh's?" and "What's?" are not a good sign.

  2. Technique. Many evaluations look at technique in too great a depth. There are likely too many players and too little time to adequately assess every players technical abilities. This part of the evaluation looks at some vital areas.
    1. 1v1 in possession. Did he or she take anyone on and what happened?
    2. 1v1 opponents in possession. They may not take anyone on but they'll certainly have to stop someone.
    3. Do they have the skills necessary to fill the role at the required level? In general terms, are they comfortable on the field. In specific terms can they handle a role in 7 below?

  3. Contribution to the game. It's not just a matter of how someone plays 'on the ball.' A player can make a significant contribution to the game and have few actual touches. They can show leadership by organizing things around them. This element is viewed in the four main moments.
    1. Own team in possession.
    2. Opponents in possession.
    3. Transition, winning/losing possession.

  4. Personality/mentality. These factors show up best under stress.
    1. Alert/concentration. Is their head in the game?
    2. Composure. Are they relaxed? Do they seemingly have a lot of time or are they rushed?
    3. Self confidence. Are set backs temporary? Do they think they can get the job done?
    4. Leadership. The most elusive quality.
    5. Competitiveness. Are they prepared to make sacrifices?
    6. Human relations, teammates, opponents, referee, coach. Can they work with other players? You?

  5. Insight. Fine tuning the evaluation of their mentality. You may need to talk with them to get a handle on this.
    1. Do they grasp things quickly? Do they need to be told only once for something to stick?
    2. Can they read, anticipate situations? Do they seem to have a crystal ball?

  6. Body orientation, dominate nature. This is more important in older teams where player roles are more clearly defined. When you're looking for an 18 year old central defender they better be good in the air.
    1. Both feet. The ideal.
    2. Left foot. A good left footed player maybe of greater value than a very good right footed one.
    3. In the air. Depends on the age and the role.
    4. Right foot. A dime a dozen, it had better be outstanding to rate a 1.

  7. Role in the team/game. This provides the context for the evaluation. Players are trying out for a spot on the team. If they can play as a central defender their evaluation needs to take that into account. They may not need great 1v1 skills in possession. If your looking for a left midfielder you maybe able to accept an average right foot.
    1. Goal scorer. Be VERY critical here. A strong foot, great individual skills are not enough. It takes a special person who can carry this responsibility game in and game out. Look for strong personality/mental qualities along with speed, A & B.
    2. Play maker. Play makers can operate from different positions and use different tools, techniques. They can calculate the risk to return and get a high return on investment.
    3. Ball winner. No matter what mom and dad says, 80% of the team are ball winners. The good news, it's the simplest role to learn how to do well.
    4. Goalkeeper. Self explanatory.
    5. Center, left, right, ahead of the ball and behind the ball. The basic positions and roles. The context of your evaluation.

  8. Notes. Self explanatory.

Looking at the above criteria it should be apparent that the evaluation should be done using small sided games. In fact, many State Associations recommend just that.

From the Virginia State Youth Soccer Association's website;

"9. Evaluation Format - Small sided Games should be used to identify the talent and subsequently categorize the talent. No drills should be utilized or employed. The evaluators should look at the players speed, decisions and executions under realistic game-like conditions and not sterile exercises. There are many circumstances where evaluators have set up drills for points or time in an attempt to quantify performance. There are far too many circumstances where players tested out well in the drills but made poor decisions in a game. Therefore, a player should always be evaluated on the decisions, executions and speed under match conditions."

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