Yep, it’s getting to be that time again…the silly season. My hubby calls it that (I thought he made it up but I later found out that it’s an English expression, but I digress) and it’s a great description for all of the craziness, apprehension, and uncertainty. If you’re new to club soccer, the So Cal club season doesn’t follow the calendar year, it officially begins after State/National Cup in February/March/April and runs through February/March/April depending on the age and level of the team.
Although the official start to the season may not be here, all the silliness starts in earnest after the first of the year. I’ve decided that I’m going to remain totally calm through the entire process (like that’s really going to happen but maybe for once I will follow my own advice) As the new season approaches here’s some suggestions for surviving the silliness…
I think it’s wise to evaluate your child’s experience by looking at his/her progress over the year- are they progressing as a player? Do you like the coach? Are they getting enough playing time? Has their team been successful? Are they playing at the appropriate competitive level? Are they happy on their team? Figure out what is important to your child and your family. Is playing with friends essential? Is playing at a top club a priority? How far are you willing to drive? What type of coach would be best for your child? Are they ready to make the move from rec to club or vice versa? Is your child looking to play in college? Are there coaches recruiting your child?
Talk to your child about their feelings about their experience over the last year. What does he/she want to do? Potentially the most painful, but definitely the most important question to ask your child… Do you want to play again or are you ready to try something else? Obviously the younger the child, the more you need to be a part of the decision, but it’s important to ask for their input.
Even if you are happy with your team, coach and club, you always want to have other options in the back of your mind in case something unexpected happens. There are many ways to research different teams in your area- word of mouth, club websites, league standings, State/National Cup results, ECNL/Academy results, college commitments and the soccer forum.
Based on the results of your evaluation, you can start finding teams that are appropriate options for your child. If you are looking at many different options, it’s helpful to keep a spreadsheet going so that you can remember all the information.
Once you’ve done your evaluation and research, you should have a list of clubs or teams that you may be interested in for your child. Most clubs have their tryout dates already posted, but if you have a specific coach/team in mind, it can be a good strategy to contact the coach directly (usually via email- should be easy to find via the club website) and ask if your child can attend a training session. Some coaches may not be interested because of State Cup preparation, but it’s a good way to see a team in action and for the coach to see your child without the hordes of kids at a club wide tryout session. Your email should be short and to the point letting the coach know your child’s name and current club and that you are considering a switch for the upcoming year.
The sticky part about contacting other coaches is letting your current coach know that you are checking out other options. I believe that honesty is the best policy and that you should be upfront and let your coach know if you are going to take your child to another club’s training session. The soccer world is small and you don’t want your coach finding out from someone other than you. Of course some coaches are a bit vindictive and possessive so if you feel that your child would be benched for trying out with another team, you may want to keep that information on the down low. (That may be an indicator that you need a new coach though!!)
Even if you attend a training session, your child will most likely be asked to attend the club tryouts. I found several articles that can be helpful when navigating the process…
Tips to Stand out at Soccer Tryouts- Coach Up Blog There are some great tips in here! Definitely worth reading with your child.
5 Rules of Tryout Etiquette for Sports Parents- Janis Meredith I love how this article starts out… “Wouldn’t it be interesting if parents had to try out for their kids’ teams too? But instead of showcasing skills on the field or court as their children do, they would exhibit their composure in the bleachers and on the sidelines.” Ha-Ha!
How to Make a Soccer Team- Complete Soccer Guide Basic, common sense tips
The Soccer Tryout- 13 Tips for Success- Martha Bishop This is geared more towards rec players, but still has some good advice.
I can’t link to the article anymore, but Stats Dad had a great tip about having your child wear the same distinctive jersey to each tryout date. This will help the coaches easily identify your child.
After going through all the process with your child, you need to make the decision that is right for your child and family. When doing this at U10 with BSG I explained tryouts as a chess game and that we all needed to make the right moves to win at the end. She felt disloyal to her team when trying out with other teams, so the game analogy really helped her feel better.
Be prepared for your child not to make all the teams he/she wants. Remember that Michael Jordan didn’t make the first team he tried out for either!
Good luck on surviving the silly season! Anyone else have any other good tips to add??