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5 Critical Questions to Ask During Club Soccer Tryouts (2024 Edition)


Ah it’s that wonderful time of year again.  The time of year where soccer parents are rushing players to multiple club soccer tryouts while trying to make sense of all the options available. And making matters worse, the club soccer scene has drastically changed in the past couple of years; earlier "practice visits", extended early tryouts, and massive club restructures in Central Ohio.  So what is a family to do?  We’ll list 5 Must Ask Tryout Questions YOU should be asking yourself, your player, and your prospective coach for next season. Here we go!


QUESTION #1 - WHAT ARE MY PLAYER’S GOALS? 

Ahead of everything, asking your player about their goals for playing is the most important step to take. Asking them about their goals will help you narrow choices available; many may seem appealing to parents but may be just the opposite of your player's enjoyment.  


  • Do they want to be on a larger team or smaller regarding playing time?

  • Do they aspire to having a winning record or more focused on their individual performance?  

  • Are they looking to find more like-minded teammates to help challenge them (realistically)?

  • Is their goal to keep playing with friends due to the social nature of soccer?  

  • Do they want to develop to make a certain upcoming HS team (older)

  • Are they wanting to further their goals to play collegiately/ professionally?


The key aspect is to first learn what THEY want.  Over the past decade of my coaching career, I’ve encountered way too many families who decide teams/clubs based on what the parental structure wants over what their athlete really wants.  And the usual result?  Lackluster enjoyment and eventual burnout.


QUESTION #2 - WHERE IS MY PLAYER CURRENTLY DEVELOPMENT WISE?  

Understanding where your athlete's current development (realistically) stands compared to their peers is the next step.  But development is much more than skill with the ball.  Is your athlete's understanding of the game improving? Do they continue to develop communication and social understanding of team play? Is their mental confidence improving and feel challenged by their current environment? Most importantly, are they excited to go to practice and games?


Every parent is proud of their player and emotionally wants to think they are great.  But big picture, where is your player currently in regards to their peers?  Are you able to actually “measure” their development?  Soccer is largely opinion based, but you can assess how often your player has a great first touch vs turns the ball over, what their juggling record is, how accurate their passes and shots are, etc.  Look at the other players on their team or your competition.  Where do they stand in comparison? If you feel like you're unsure where they stand, organizations like Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD™) can offer assessments of player development from a professional perspective.


Those first two questions lay the groundwork for everything. After figuring out those, your family should start to consider the following questions:


QUESTION #3 - IS MY PLAYER DEVELOPING ON THEIR TEAM/ WITH THEIR COACH?  

Regardless where your athlete’s development currently is, recognizing the environment they train/play in is the next step.  Does their current team’s environment promote their development OR hinder it?  Not just technically, but mentally, confidence wise, tactically and more.  This is one of the more challenging aspects of tryouts. Some teams have existing rosters of players that are growing stronger (and need to add 1-2x strong individuals) while others are just forming; with their development curves at various states. Can you identify where in the development process your current team is? Does it have potential in a year or so OR does your player need to start looking elsewhere? Does your coach focus on your athlete's team OR is their focus split between multiple teams/ roles at the club?


If you AND your athlete ultimately decide they are not reaching their development goals with their current team/ coach, then it is a good idea to explore other teams/ clubs.  


*Key point is to consider where the team is in its growth process.  A newly formed team will usually need 2-3 seasons under a strong coach to start to click.


QUESTION #4 - WHAT CLUB SHOULD MY PLAYER TRYOUT FOR? 

This is the million dollar question!  And unfortunately the answer is not simple. Aside from QTSD™ not able to refer specific clubs/ coaches (due to being a 100% club neutral organization), the real challenge is not which club but rather which coach should you tryout for.  This is a very hard question to get the answer to BUT this is the person that will be responsible for your child’s soccer development for the next year. 


Coaching styles, philosophies, and management will vary from coach to coach.  While many may assume coaches at a club will coach the same way, the reality is every coach is different.  And your athlete is unique as well.  Finding the perfect match is the challenge:


  • Does your player react better to a high level coach that is verbally aggressive?

  • Do they work better with a more nuanced coach that is less aggressive?

  • Do you prefer a more tactically and detailed oriented coach?

  • What about a coach that is more focused on high intensity effort and fitness over skill?

  • Does your player have better success with direct style of play OR possession oriented?


Each of these coach types of coaches exist at different clubs here in Columbus.  The goal is to learn what is a fit for your athlete’s learning style and goals.


QUESTION #5 - WHAT IF WE GET IT WRONG?  The simple answer?  At some point, you will get your club/ coach choice wrong. Every single family will experience great coaches/ clubs AND poor coaches/teams at some point in their soccer career. That is the nature of club soccer; especially with so many clubs and teams across central Ohio, with diluted talent pools, various player development rates, varied coaching licensure/ experience, and extremely high expectations from many families.  


That all said, we promise your player WILL NOT “fall behind” if they have a rough season.  Too many families have this unwarranted “fear” for their player.  Yes, they may have to adjust their development in other areas (i.e. a personal trainer, a training app, etc.) but rough seasons are just as valuable as successful seasons.  Use any challenges a season/ team/ club/ coach provides AND learn from it.  And then evaluate next year to see what choices lie ahead.  


To sum up simply, a soccer season is exactly this:


“One full year to see if a club/ coach is a fit for your player AND ample time for a coach to decide if your player is a fit for their team.”  

Here’s to a successful tryout season and if you ever have any questions at all, please ask our QTSD™ Coaching Team.  We love talking soccer!

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