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Try-Out Comments By Paul Davies

A few years ago when faced with the task of organizing my first “tryout” I was desperately scratching my head to decide what would be the most efficient, fair, easy and non-political way to accomplish this. Having seen some of Koach Karl’s articles on the subject (anybody remember “Try and You’re Out”?) in California Soccer I thought that I would begin by picking his brain for a method to accomplish these goals.

Koach Karl’s primary recommendation was to become a very good scorekeeper for a large number of short-duration small sided games. So I developed a field layout which included three different areas for the following small sided games: 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3. Also, I developed a simple score sheet to handle the scores from all three areas on one page.

Since most tryouts have a time limitation (at our club it is 2 hours) the total time allotted to each area needed to be about the same and allow enough time for recording scores at the end of each game, group changes, water breaks and warm up etc.
From past experience, using this tryout system, I have found that the following number of games played and time allotted per game works well for a 2 hour tryout:

1v1 - Eight (8) one minute games
2v2 - Four (4) three minute games
3v3 - Three (3) eight minute games

At the beginning of each tryout, the entire group is divided randomly into three sub groups by lining up all of the players and the coach/adult helper walks along the line while pointing at each player and assigning “A”,”B” or “C”. Then each player joins their respective one of three adult scorekeepers and gives them their name or number (which is the case in our club).

Each group then goes to one of the three areas of the field to begin play. Once all the players in the group have played the full number of games allotted (see above), there is a water break. Once all three groups have finished and had a water break, they change. This process is repeated until the tryout is over. All of the games begin with one and two touch passing

Points Award System:
• A point is awarded for each goal scored and for any shut out for the 1v1 and 2v2 games.
• For the 2v2 games both players on the team receive credit for the goals and shutouts regardless which player scored the goals. While the scores are also recorded in the 3v3 games, this portion of the tryout is primarily for the goal keepers and to test shooting at a goalkeeper in a regular full size goal. Therefore, the scorekeepers carefully make note of any goalkeeper that is trying out who must stay in goal for all three games. For teams without a player trying out as a goalkeeper, each player rotates in the position at even time intervals.

• For both the 2v2 and 3v3 games, a dot is placed in the individuals ‘goals for’ box for each game for every goal scored. The dots allow the coach to see which players actually scored the goals and can be used in the event of a tie-break for multiple players with the same total. This means most emphasis is placed on the 1v1 and 2v2 portion of the tryout.

For players who attend multiple try outs, the ranking list is formed using high point totals rather than averaged point totals.

All this may sound a bit like a scientific test method; however, the players seem to like the fact that the scores are recorded instead of being at the mercy of “subjective” adult opinions.

For the past two years, multiple teams at our club have used this tryout which means the field only needs to be set up one time.

As with any tryout system, no one method is perfect. I believe if time and space were not barriers, the full sized game should also be incorporated somewhere. However, at best, in a ninety (90) minute full sized game with the ball in play for sixty (60) of those minutes, an individual on a team, on average, can not have possession of the ball for more than two (2) minutes.

The problem is compounded at a tryout when one soccer field is available and there are over 40 players at the tryout. The system above maximizes the uses of both space and playing time and gives each player at least ten (10) minutes of actual possession and playing time regardless of the total number of players at the tryout.

Furthermore, a player who attends only one tryout can still reasonably be compared with players that attend multiple tryouts.

I have heard comments players that attended other tryouts complain that they did not get a score – only an agonizing wait for the right kind of phone call from the coach. Using the above system, most players already have a pretty good idea how they matched up and are welcome to see their scores.

Other complaints of different tryout methods include “too much standing in line” along with a dislike for unrealistic skill tests.

I have also used this same method at our High School. In total, I must have used it at least fifteen (15) times and not once been disappointed with the teams the method produced. It really does allow the players to pick themselves. Whenever there is any doubt, I’ll put the players in question in one group and see who comes out on top.   

Coaching Articles


by Karl Dewazien  

Mom and Dad, youare your child’s first and most influential teacher/coach.  The stimulation and support you provide caninstill a desire to play soccer.  If yourchild plays only to gain your approval their interest in playing may declineand playing for its own sake is sacrificed. Make this learning experience together as much FUN as possible so thatyour child becomes self-motivated and improves on his/her own.

Before you sign-up and go to the first practice you shouldfind out if your child is interest in playing organized soccer. Make aconscientious effort to listen to your child. Talk about mutual goals in playing soccer both short and long term.  Make all conversation ’two-way.’  During your talks it is very important tofind out…if your child is really interested in playing soccer!

Play-Together-Todayand Every Day!  Since this will be yourchild’s only childhood and they are available right now –Start Playing RightNow.  Delay playing until tomorrow isalways too late so Play-Together-Today because sometimes tomorrow never comes! 

Play the 1 vs. 1game.  Teach your child ‘how to’ setup a 1 vs. 1 field.  Begin by having themhold two objects (ex: milk cartons) in each hand.  With feet together move the right foot as farto the right as possible and place down the first object.  Bring the feet back together and repeat theaction with the left foot to the left side and again placing down the object.  Taking the second set of objects walk about10 big steps and repeat the previous sequence. There you have your 1 vs. 1 field ready to go

Some Do’s youneed to be aware of when playing 1 vs. 1 with your child:

·        Do have a goal to attack and a goal todefend. 

·        Do offer light resistance so that your childdoes not become discouraged.

·        Do allow your child to score. 

·        Do encourage them to dribble and attempt to makefakes and feints.

·        Do allow them as many touches with the ball aspossible. 

·        Do give them encouragement. 

·        Do have lots of FUN together J


Some Don’ts youneed to be aware of when playing 1 vs. 1 with your child:

·        Don’t hog the ball, your child needs to touchthe ball as often as possible.

·        Don’t’ make fun of your child or his/hermistakes, allow them to experiment without comments. 

·        Don’t make your child look foolish or silly,they need to be successful or they may not want to play again!


Play the 1 vs.1 game or other small sided soccer games as often as possible.  Playing the game, especially on a small-sidedscale, teaches them more than any drill, exercise, or practice situation youcan invent.  But, the game(s) must be FUN!  


Finally, when learning soccer together, be as helpful,understanding and patient as you are/were when your child is/was learning otherskills in life.   

Segments & Illustrations were taken from my book: FUNdamental SOCCER –GUIDE

Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien) StateDirector of Coaching - California Youth Soccer Association (1978-2012)

Authorof the Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series

Producerof the highly acclaimed ‘9-Step Practice Routine’  DVD. 

Hecan be reached at:  or






More Information on Coaching

LETTER to the EDITOR:  Stop With the Tryout Madness.

When you put together a group of kids, at the travellevel, they shouldn’t have to worry from one year to the next if they are onthe team. Now I know there are fringe kids, the top 2 or 3 and the bottom 2 or3 that may move on, but the idea of wholesale changes to a team every year isinsane.

I have known parents who have taken whole teams to different clubs because the team was going to be broken up. A good coach/clubwill discuss the individual strengths and weaknesses of the player, with theplayer and the parent and allow the child to grow in confidence and ability.Now with the fringe kids you should be honest, “your son/daughter is reallyweak in this area and we are concerned that if they continue to play at thislevel their development will be stunted because they aren’t going to get muchgame time.”

It will hurt the child and the parent’s feelings but inthe end if you do what is best for the child (not the club or coach) you willhave a player who is happier and enjoys playing soccer. How many times as acoach have we seen a player struggling at one level, but if they drop to aslightly lower level of competition they thrive.

Keeping the bulk of a team together for several yearswill allow the players to develop in an environment that isn’t as highly pressurized as the current system.

Coach Anonymous

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Suggested Format Guidelines BY Gary Waltz

The OnePlus Format (SoccerBuddy)


Often children with disabilities need assistance. To address this, the special needs program incorporates a new volunteercalled a Soccer Buddy.  This person willassist the child at practice and games.

Without compromising safety, the primary goals is to have the player be as self-reliantas possible.  After all, the overall goalis to see the child participate and grow in their accomplishments.  It is possible that the child may nedassistance with a particular task for a limited time. The program should allowthem to accomplish the task independently when it is safe and they havedemonstrated physical ability and mental comprehension.

Unfortunately,some children have such severe needs the Soccer Buddy will have to perform manyactions for them.  It may include pickingup a ball so the child can touch it, assisting with the mobility device, orholding their hand to provide direction.

The ONE PLUSformat can be adapted to any game or practice situation.  It is not mandatory that every special needschild have a Soccer Buddy on the field with them.  Some children may require this help whileothers will not.  Their individualmedical condition will be the determining factor.  When in doubt it is always best to have aSoccer Buddy.

Note: Lookfor more ‘Format’ ideas in the next issue of Karl’s Komments J

For more informationcontact TOPSoccer program Coordinator Gary Waltz at or theDistrict VII office.    Article Source:“Miles & Miles of Soccer Smiles”Handbook

Co-Authors: Peggy Neason/ Former US Youth SoccerTOPSoccer Chairperson

                    Karl Dewazien/CEO, FUNdamental SOCCER Enterprises


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