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Best Practices for Organizing Efficient Sports Tryouts

Tips for organizing an effective and efficient tryout session

Seasons begin at the first open tryout. The evaluations and feedback at tryouts are perhaps the most influential part of any team’s season. Sports tryouts don’t determine the success of a team, but if done correctly, can fast track to a championship. Addressing the areas below can create an effective, efficient, and enjoyable tryout session.

Do your preparation before registration and applications open

Before the players arrive, you need to have a clear expectation of how your team will operate. You should have a plan for the structure of your team, the system you want to play, and the culture you want to instill. If you know what your ideal team would look like, it will be easier to identify stand out players.

These factors should then direct your evaluation process. In addition, doing your prep work will allay a major fear of athletes in tryouts- not knowing what to expect. If you lay out clear expectations during your registration and application process, you will create a more welcoming tryout experience. You should go into a tryout with a clear conception of the team you are building.

Sports tryout drills should match practice drills

When determining your tryout drills, you should keep it as close to a real practice as you possible can. This will help in two aspects. First, it will acclimate your potential players to the expectations and structure of a typical practice. Second, it will show how players act and operate in the times you will be with them the most. You want to spend your many practice hours with players who enjoy being there, and running good drills during your sports tryouts will show which players put in the effort and attention to each drill.

Additionally, include as much live competition as possible. Technical drills allow players to showcase their skills, but you can gain  information on a player during in-game scenarios. For example, when running a soccer tryout, structure drills around a mix of half side (2v2, 3v3) and full scrimmages to separate the best players from the crowd.

Have clear expectations of players

Go into your sports tryout process having a distinct idea of the players you want on your team. Prioritize the things you want to look for in your players. This will depend on your age group and competition level. For an 18 year old or high school tryouts, you will likely pay more attention to technical ability and skill level.

For younger players, good attitude and passion for the game are attractive qualities. Identifying your expectations beforehand will allow you to quickly identify the stand out players. In addition, it will make you more likely to identify players. 

Stay consistent and fair in your athlete evaluations

It is vitally important to stay consistent, fair, and unbiased while evaluating players. From the outset, all players should be given an equal opportunity. The more advanced players will naturally stand out as time passes, but if you elevate them too quickly, you can limit your focus and look past surprise performers. An easy way to ensure you stay unbiased is to invite outside evaluators who have no previous experience with the players.

This is especially true in sports tryouts where many of the players played for the team previously. The extra set of eyes will allow you to see and notice players you perhaps did not before. Creating an unbiased evaluation process results in talent identification instead of talent selection, a vital distinction between poor and elite coaching.

Another way to stay consistent and eliminate subjectivity is to make use of measurables. This will obviously depend on age and competition level, but using fitness tests that provide numerical data can give quick comparisons between players. Also, video software, such as Upper Hand’s Apex tool (free 14-day trial), allows for repeated viewings and attention to details not evident during the live tryout. Athlete evaluation is a sensitive, yet necessary, subject for young players, and there are many different elements that go into a good evaluation.

Make it fun!

Above anything else, make your tryout fun. Many players naturally enter tryouts nervous and anxious. This could hamper their performance. Creating a non intimidating and low stakes environment will not only liven the mood, but will also encourage players to relax and comfortably showcase their abilities. 

Sports tryouts begin a new chapter for any team. It is important to organize an efficient and effective tryout if you wish to find the best players. In doing your prep work, using smart drills, setting clear expectations, and evaluating consistently, your tryout will set you up for success. And, finally, prioritize an enjoyable and fun environment. In doing these things, your tryout will build a good team, a good season, and a good program.

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