Rapids Youth Soccer Player Placement Process
Posted by: Andrew Kewley | Director of Coaching
Spring season is upon us, and here in Colorado that often means a season of change. For many of our passionate soccer players, spring is notorious for one thing… youth soccer tryouts! Many of our families are already getting excited for upcoming tryouts, and with that excitement comes a lot of questions. Rapids Youth Soccer has been making some changes to our Player Placement process, and we are looking forward to streamlining the experience for our Competitive soccer players.
At Rapids Youth Soccer, we break down team formation into three key areas: (1) Intent to Play, (2) Player Placement, and (3) Tryouts.
To understand the Player Placement process, you first must understand its objective. Player Placement is used to place players in the most developmentally-appropriate level of play so that they can be successful in their placement.
We are proud to lead the youth soccer community in the move significantly away from official tryout events and into an innovative ongoing evaluation process that follows a player over the course of their time with Rapids Youth Soccer.
Why Move Away from Tryouts?
Over the years, we have found that tryouts do not provide a comprehensive look into the development level of each individual player. In some cases, as with new players from outside the club, tryouts are unavoidable. However, by narrowing the scope of players at the tryout event, we can more accurately evaluate their level.
For our Rapids Youth Soccer players, we have found that the year-long evaluation process provides a more accurate and in-depth look of each individual player. Even so, there will be instances, such as the U11/U12 age group, where we have player pools to better assess players, as well as player movement at all ages.
Who Needs to Attend the Tryout event?
- All players, returning or new to Rapids Youth Soccer, in the 2008 (U11) age group.
- Any player at any age coming new into Rapids Youth Soccer.
- Goalkeepers at all ages.
Intent to Play
Rapids Youth Soccer does not require our existing club members 12U and above to tryout for our competitive teams (other than goalkeepers), however, players are required to state their Intent to Play for one of our teams. Rapids Youth Soccer and our professional staff work year-round evaluating players within the club to ensure every player is placed appropriately based on their development. For this reason, we are moving away from tryouts for internal players returning to the club but we ask that they state their Intent to Play so that we can properly consider them for a competitive team.
The Intent to Play process is similar to pre-registration, and states your desire for the Rapids Youth Soccer staff to place your player on one of our teams. Once you have filled out this information, our staff will officially place your player on a team based on our player placement process. Once your player has been assigned a team, you will receive an offer letter from Rapids Youth Soccer. We will send this letter electronically to your primary email account in our Bonzi sports management system. Once you receive this letter, you have 24 hours to accept your player’s spot on the team.
Over the years, we have seen firsthand the considerable amount of stress that the tryout event places on our players and coaches. As a result, we have created a Player Placement process to ensure that all players feel comfortable and have the opportunity to meet their personal goals over the course of the year. A year-round, ongoing assessment is not only less taxing (mentally and physically) on our players, but it is much more accurate and detailed. Our staff is able to take a body of work over a larger period of time and in a more natural setting, and we can feel more confident in our decisions for each player.
The Rapids Youth Soccer Player Placement process relies on a variety of tools to evaluate a player to help ensure each player is placed appropriately based on his or her tactical, technical, physical, and psycho-social development. These evaluation tools include:
- Player Development Meetings
Players and families sit down twice a year (once for high school aged players) to go over a player development plan and evaluation. These meetings are designed to allow the player and coach one-on-one time to discuss a few key areas for the player’s development. Information highlighted in these meetings is tracked by full-time staff to monitor the growth and development of a player.
- Technical staff reports
Staff reports are done by both part-time and full-time staff and can range from training session notes to game and event reports. These track and monitor team and individual performances and progress. Each technical staff member is asked to keep a training and game day log. In addition, each age-group director is expected to provide the Director of Coaching with a technical report for each event a team participates in for their division.
- Games and training sessions
Players are constantly being evaluated (formally and informally) to ensure the player (and team) are on track for development. This is an ongoing process that happens throughout the year.
- Observations at events (Community Cup, Community Training, Age-Group Kickarounds)
Staff members use these community events to observe players in an environment that is different than their everyday training. Players for these events are often grouped together by age and not ability. The environment at these unique events challenges players to be bold and creative, as they make decisions outside of the comfort of their team. In addition, it is a chance to get a side by side comparison of players in an environment that is fun and engaging.
- Tournament participation
Tournaments are a good way for the staff to evaluate players in a state, regional, or national context (depending on the age and event). Tournaments can also be very useful as they allow staff to collect and observe a lot of games in a short amount of time.
- Coach and Director evaluation and feedback
Rapids Youth Soccer age-group directors communicate frequently with the coaches about the successes and challenges each team faces. This communication and evaluation goes both way, from coach to director and from director to coach. This relationship is vital as directors provide and set the developmental pathway for our players and teams.
- Guest playing/guest training
At times, the club will introduce a guest player to help manipulate the external pressures a player may experience. The external pressures (technical, tactical, psycho-social, physical) that a player experiences makes up their playing environment. If a player is experiencing an imbalance in one of these four areas of pressure, introducing a guest player can be a tool to help with that player’s development.
The depth of this information, collected throughout the year while players perform in a natural setting, ensures that the Rapids Youth Soccer staff receive a well-rounded view of each player’s skills. We strive to maintain a high level of professionalism and organization while providing a consistent, high-quality teaching environment at each event, session, and game to guarantee the integrity and quality of information collected. As such, we are confident that this player placement process is more accurate, and less taxing (mentally and physically), than a tryout event.
Although we use a year-round, and essentially a lifetime, player placement process to evaluate players within Rapids Youth Soccer, we will continue to hold tryouts to evaluate incoming U11 players as well as prospective players from outside of the club. During these tryouts, we look for very specific qualities in each player to ensure they are a good fit for the unique culture and training methodology we use here at Rapids Youth Soccer. We believe that each outside player coming into the Club should help the Club raise the collective standards set by our Competitive program.
In the case of a player from outside the club having similar attributes to a player from inside the club, we will look to promote from within the club first.
During tryouts, we will often have current Rapids Youth Soccer players and teams in attendance to help gauge where an outside player may fit within the structure of our club. These Rapids Youth Soccer players will have been offered and accepted a secure placement within the program.
We feel confident in this Player Placement process as it has evolved over the last few years and feel we will not only be more successful in the appropriate placement of players, but will additionally reduce the stress, anxiety, and difficulties surrounding the Tryout event for players and parents.