4 Soccer Tryout Drills for Effective Player Evaluation
Soccer tryout drills are meant to help coaches select a soccer team out of a group of players.
Effective soccer tryout drills should allow coaches and other vetting groups to evaluate the technical and tactical abilities of soccer players within a short time. We have described the best soccer tryout drills below. Take a look.
1v1 Defending Soccer Tryout Drills
This drill involves players competing in a 1v1 to evaluate various soccer skills such as attacking and defending abilities.
In this drill, the defenders are expected to close down space quickly and to prevent the attackers from moving past them.
- Create a 20 x 20 yards grid using cones. Create two gates on two opposite corners using two cones at each corner. The other two corners will have single cones.
- Along the sidelines of one of the corners with a gate, place a gate about 12 yards away on each side of the gate. These gates should be of a different color and be about 4 yards wide. They will be the scoring gates.
- Split the players into two teams. One of the teams will be the defending team, and they will start at the corner gate nearest to the scoring gates. The other team will be the attacking team, and they will start at the corner gate that is opposite to the defending team's starting gate.
- The defenders will start the ball.
- The players line up behind their respective gates with the first player standing at the gate. The first defender should have a ball at their feet.
- If there are over 12 participants for this tryout drill, create another setup so that each player will have the chance to do more repetitions.
- Determine the number of repetitions and the duration for each round. Ensure that players play as defenders for a minimum of two times and about 4 minutes.
- The play starts with the defensive player making a pass to the attacking player at the opposite corner gate. The pass should be made on the ground and should be aimed at the attacking player’s feet.
- As the attacker waits to receive the pass, the defender sprints forward in an attempt to close down the attacking player’s space.
- The attacking player will attempt to score by dribbling through one of the three appropriate gates - the two non-corner gates will earn the attacker one point while the defenders' corner gate will earn three points.
- The defender should prevent the attacking player from scoring. The defender may as well score by dribbling through the attacking player’s corner gate.
- If the ball, for any reason, leaves the grid at any point, the players’ turn is over, and none of them has scored points.
- The next turn starts as soon as one of the players scores, or the ball goes out of bounds. Players that finish their turn should return to their respective lines.
- After each round, players should switch from defenders to attackers and vice-versa.
- Encourage the defenders to invade the attacker’s space as quickly as possible and close it down.
- Encourage the attackers to be fast both mentally and physically.
- See that the players time their tackles appropriately
8v8 Soccer Tryout Drill
This tryout drill involves two teams of 8 players each (that is including the goalkeeper) engaging in an 8v8 to goals. The drill uses a smaller pitch and fewer players compared to regular soccer matches so that players can get more touches which allows coaches to evaluate their skills much better. Players are unlikely to hide or play slow in this game setup making it easier for coaches to assess their skills quickly.
- Create a 70 x 45 yards field using cones.
- Place a full-sized goal on each end-line.
- Split the field players into two teams of seven. One of the teams wears an alternate jersey.
- Assign a goalkeeper for each team who will start at their respective goals.
- One of the goalkeepers will start with a soccer ball at their feet.
- Make team formations such that each team has defenders, midfielders and forwards. You may use a 2-3-2 formation.
- Determine the number of games to be played in the drill and the duration for each game. You could decide 3 games of 8 minutes each and 2-minute breaks in between games.
- The coach signals the player with the ball to start the play.
- Players aim at scoring on their opponents' goals while defending their goal. The evaluating staff will at the time observe how each player is performing.
- If the ball goes out of bounds, the keeper of the team that should typically make a throw-in starts a new ball, and the play resumes.
- The team that scores more goals by the end of each game wins.
- Encourage the players to be themselves – play confidently and normally to showcase their skills.
- Remind the players to have fun with the game.
- Vary the size of the field depending on the skill level of the participating players.
Dribbling Soccer Drill
This drill involves players dribbling through a series of flags so as to showcase their ability to move and change directions quickly while dribbling. The evaluation staff will evaluate players’ abilities including dribbling, speed, agility, and balance.
- Plant multiple flags in a zig-zag fashion within one half of the field. The flags should be approximately 5 yards apart, and the zigzag course should be about 25 yards in length.
- You may set up a number of courses depending on the number of participating players.
- Instruct the players to line up on one end of the course.
- Avail an adequate supply of soccer balls close to where the players are lined up.
- The coach signals the first player in line to dribble through the course and avoid touching any of the flags.
- The players should dribble back to their starting position once they reach the other end of the course.
- Each player should dribble through the course at least 4 times.
- The coach may limit the dribbling style so that the players can showcase their different dribbling abilities.
- The coach may instruct the players to only dribble with their right or left foot so that they can observe how they dribble with their non-dominant foot.
- The players should be seen to make controlled touches and dribble with speed.
- The players should be able to change direction quickly and easily.
Crossing and Finishing Soccer Tryout Drill
In this drill, players are evaluated for their crossing and finishing skills. It requires players to make quality crosses consistently. Defenders are evaluated on their ability to prevent getting scored by winning the balls in the box.
- Place a full-size goal on one end-line.
- Place a cone about 5 yards from the center circle and in the middle of the field. This is where all the attacking players will start.
- Place two cones 10 yards apart on each side of the field. The two cones should be 7 yards from the sideline. All wing players will start on these cones.
- Two defending players will start inside the box as the other defending players wait at the end-line near the goal. You will need a minimum of 4 defenders for this drill, and they should be in an alternate color jersey.
- Instruct one goalkeeper to start at the goal while the other goalkeepers wait on the sides of the goal.
- Place multiple soccer balls near the attacking starting cone.
- Three attackers get in position and form a triangle in front of the attacking starting cone. The attacking players then complete about five one-touch passes and then one of them passes the ball to one of the wing players.
- The wing player dribbles towards the end-line after receiving the pass. As the wing player dribbles, the attacking players sprint into three different areas of the box, which is the front, middle, and back.
- Once the wing player dribbles past the cone nearest to the end-line, they are allowed to cross into the box. The wing player will then attempt to pick one of the three attackers and deliver the ball on their head or feet.
- The two defenders attempt to clear the ball while the attackers try to score a goal.
- The next ball from three other attacking players starts immediately after one of the following takes place; a goal is scored, the defending players clear the ball out of the area, or the goalkeeper saves the shot.
- The defending players are required to complete two turns consecutively before switching with other defenders. The attackers and wing players that have completed their turns should line up at the back of their lines.
- The attacking players should switch to driving the ball to the other side of the field after every turn.
- Perform the drill for 3 rounds of 5 minutes.
- The players should move with speed and make accurate passes.
- The defending players should remain aware of the attacking players.
- The players should play with their heads up.
Training Equipment & Gears
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Coaches should ensure that the participants take part in different drills so that the coaches can evaluate their various skills. The tryout drills should be planned in a way that will ensure a comprehensive assessment of the players’ skills and abilities.