Soccer Tryout Drills for Select and Travel Teams
Soccer Tryout Evaluation Form and Tips
How to Use a Small-Sided Scrimmage to Evaluate Players

Hi SoccerHelp,

I hope you are doing well. I was able to find a few things on SoccerHelp Premium regarding drills/practice games to use for soccer tryouts.

I have been using many of your soccer drills/practice games this year and my U8 boys team is undefeated.

We have decided to go competitive starting in the spring and I need to add a few players so was looking for some of the best drills to use for evaluation in the tryouts.

Also, any suggestion on how many days of evaluation? I'm currently thinking 2 days....but any thoughts you may have would be great.

I probably need 2 defenders and 2 wingers the most.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Jeff, Premium member, U8 select


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for writing. I'm glad to hear your team is doing so well. Please let me know which of the Premium drills help the most. In case you haven't tried them, I guarantee you that Dribble Across A Square Game (Improved), Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race, Shoulder Tackle & Strength On The Ball Game, Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending and Chips/Lofted Passes Game will help. Also try Defensive Footwork Games

To evaluate players, I would play the Premium Dribble Across A Square Game (Improved), Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race, Shoulder Tackle & Strength On The Ball Game and Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending (you will learn a great deal from watching players play those 4 games - you will quickly see who the best players are and who has potential - an advantage is that the competition creates pressure, so they are having to perform under pressure and they are doing the same activity at once. ALSO, those games will show you who is the most coachable and learns the fastest and tries the hardest and has the desire to win). Also, check out Small Sided Scrimmage Without a Goalie , 2 Team Keep Away and maybe Chips/Lofted Passes Game. There are ideas about how to use at No. 3 at 23 Of The Best SoccerHelp Tips & Tactics

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I agree with you about 2 days. I think that will give you a better look and time to make changes to your plans after the first day AND you can tell the players that they have to be invited back for the second day - that will let you narrow it down and you can focus on the best players the second day.

Tips from 23 Of The Best SoccerHelp Tips & Tactics about How to Use a Small-Sided Scrimmage to Evaluate Players

(C). Have a Small-sided Scrimmage Without A Goalie while you and your assistants stand outside the field (on different sides) to watch & take notes. (See the "Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalie" practice game for how to set this up. Do not try to coach during this scrimmage, just observe). Set this up by dividing into 2 teams (a parent or sibling can play if needed or just try to balance the teams). Use vests or some method to identify the teams, I suggest avoiding "skins" since it causes embarrassment & reluctance to scrimmage for some thin or overweight boys. Use disk cones to outline a "field" that is 30-50 "steps" in length (30-50 yards depending on age; better too short than too long for this purpose) and about 25-40 steps wide depending on age (just step it off & drop 3 or 4 cones down each side - accuracy is not critical). Use 2 cones (ideally a different color) to make a "goal" at each end that is 5 steps wide, put one cone in the Middle to mark the Halfway line and put a Red ("scoring zone") Cone 10-12 steps out from each goal (toward the Halfway line, if you don't have 2 red cones or they are all red, just paint 2 with stripes. It is important these be distinctive since goals can only be scored on shots from inside these "Red" or "Striped" cones). Start each game or each "kick-off" by having each team start from behind its "Red Cone" (both attackers & defenders start from behind their Red Cones, in this way they start by controlling the ball & you don't get bogged down in "Kick-offs" which are among the least important things to worry about, see Kick-Off in the Dictionary & below). Neither team has a Goalie (this forces all players to learn to be defenders without relying on a Goalie, trust us this is a great teaching method, it works). Don't assign positions, let the players choose their own (give them a minute before they start to talk about it; one thing this does is start to get them thinking). Before they start, be sure they know each others names. Don't worry about offside, that isn't the point of this scrimmage. For corners, allow the ball to be delivered by either a throw-in or a kick. Goals can only be scored on shots from inside the "Red Cone" (i.e., an imaginary line straight across the field) and must be below "goal height" to count (you make the call on these). Play 2 games of about 7-10 minutes each and at the end of the first game swap up the teams so you can see how different combinations play together. This game is not as complex as it sounds on paper. This game will show you who might be a good player on the field, who has leadership, who is selfish and a show off, the natural positions players gravitate to, who is a good, tough defender, who is afraid of contact, who is Brave, who has good natural instincts, who is an aggressive attacker, etc.

There are 6 critical things to watch for:

1. Who likes to play defense & is a brave, tough defender (a good defender doesn't have to have great ball skills and in Rec soccer can have weak skills, but look for those who are not afraid of contact and who will step in front of a shot and block it with their body; see "Assigning Positions" for more)

2. Who has talent as a scorer and which side they like to play (especially true if you have a good left footed player) or if you have a player who is a natural "striker" and would be a good center forward (read Assigning Positions)

3. Which players are good passers and which are poor passers

4. Who is a ball hog, not a team player or a disruptive influence

5. Who has very weak skills or is afraid of contact even if they have good skills (you do not want to put either of these at Fullback, see Assigning Positions).

6. Who is an impact player in terms of winning the ball, forcing turnovers and breaking up the opponent's attack. This may be a player who is simply good and can play a variety of positions or it may be someone who would make a good CMF, Stopper or CFB; in any case you probably want this type of player in the Center of the Field.


David at SoccerHelp