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How to Run a Tryout

Running a Palo Alto AYSO Soccer Tryout

for Spring Select or Elite

Some of the information on this page has been sourced from 

AYSO requires players to be evaluated by 3rd parties.  The intent is to ensure that AYSO parent coaches are not pressured or inclined to favor some players over others.  AYSO requires impartial evaluations to be performed, and for written evaluations to be available for every player. Palo Alto AYSO has engaged UK Soccer for this purpose.  

The AYSO coaches run the tryout in accordance with the plan on the right, while the evaluators focus on the players' performance.  Administrative help is needed to check in players, and organize the field.

Checking in Players
A table and several parents can help.  A blank Tryout Roster (attached to this page), to check in players must be used.  Each player must have a copy of their player form, and the Parent & Player Commitment Form, both signed.  Each child who has the two forms can be written into the Tryout Roster and given a tryout pinnie.  The color and number of the pinnie must be noted on the Tryout Roster.  The Tryout Roster is not to be given to the evaluators, to ensure they do not know who the players are that they are evaluating.  The evaluators only know the players by pinnie color and number.  These volunteers will be handling player information forms, and must be Safe Haven'd.

We are obligated to ensure the correct handling of the Player Forms, and show an audit trail of what happens to them.  Please ensure that the check in parents are initialing the page appropriately when they receive a form.

Finishing the Tryout
For the final minutes of the Tryout, bring the players together for a chat.  It is an opportunity to express our appreciation for them Trying out, encouraging them, and answering any questions.  Every player should leave feeling that they successfully accomplished the Tryout, and must await to see if they get a team assignment.  No player should be told they are in or out, rather they should be told that selections have not been done yet.

Choosing Drills
Choose drills that highlight a specific skill, and make them more challenging than for normal training.  You want to stretch the players so that the differences stand out more.
  • "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" can evaluate speed of play, aggressive receiving (does the player stand there and wait for the ball to come to him or her, or go to the ball, First Touch, one-touch control into open space, passing while running.
  • "Dribble Across A Square" can be used to evaluate control dribbling, shielding, recognition and acceleration into Open Space, composure in traffic and while under pressure, and Field Vision.
  • "Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalie" can help evaluate everything except goalkeeping, but especially natural positions and who is a good, tough defender.
  • "2 Team Keep Away" will show you how well players can transition and who is good at maintaining possession, leadership on the field, teamwork and winning the ball.
  • "Shoulder Tackle & Strength On The Ball Game" will show you a lot about which players are aggressive and not afraid of contact and which have "strength on the ball". Obviously, being able to legally challenge for the ball and strength on the ball to maintain possession while dribbling are both important.
  •  "Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending" will show you who can win a 50/50 Ball and who has good 1v1 Attacking skills and good 1v1 Defensive skills.
Small Sided Games
A variety of small sided games can help to show skills under game pressure.  Mix up some games with 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 3v3, 5v5, etc.  Include finishing the ball in the net in the small sided games and some drills.

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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Tryout Structure
  1. 10 minutes - Welcome players get them juggling
  2. 10 minutes - Begin Warm Up / Co Ordination exercises
  3. 5 minutes - Water Break and Stretches for Older Age Groups
  4. 45 minutes - 1v1, 2v1 2v2 stations
  5. 5 minutes - Water Break
  6. 25 minutes - SSG - 5v5 / 6v6 dependent on numbers
  7. Turn in pinnies
  8. 5 minutes - De-Brief Wrap Up
  9. Dismiss to pickup area
After the Tryout
The 3rd Party Evaluators will upload the evaluation information to Palo Alto AYSO evaluation forms.  The form has tabs for each division, and and can be read by Elite and Select coaches.  

Any coach evaluations that were performed and the coach would like to have included must be captured into the evaluation package.  AYSO requires that any information that was part of the evaluation be retained for audit purposes.  Mail the information to, and the information will be added to the evaluation.

The sign-up forms for the tryouts must also be forwarded to the Regional Commissioner.  The RC will have them collated and uploaded.  

Selecting a Team
It is very important to form the team quickly as soon as the tryouts are completed.  Players and Parents should not be left wondering if they are included, or will get informed.  We must inform every players' family of their tryout results within 48 hours of completing the final tryout.

As soon as tryouts are complete the coaches should get together and review the results.  We need to compose the teams bearing in mind the following:
  1. coaches player gets priority
  2. merit is the key factor to forming the team
  3. positional needs 
  4. team chemistry
National Games may also have an impact on team selection in those years when we have teams going to the Games.  Players willing to commit to the Games may be shown some priority.

First Step - Compose Your Team Proposal
The player assessments and rankings are available online for you to view.  You compose and submit a proposed roster, with alternate picks in case the primary picks do not accept.  Only players who have turned in Parent & Player Commitment Forms can be considered.  Your proposal is reviewed by the Program Producer, RCA, or RC.  The proposal must be submitted for review within 48 hours of the finish of tryouts.  The proposal will be approved outright if it matches the ranking from the tryout 3rd party assessors.  If it varies from that ranking, an explanation must be provided with the proposal.  A well formed proposal will be approved quickly, and you can then proceed to issue player invitations.  Your proposal should be an email sent from your regional account to, and either or, depending on which season the tryouts were for.

Procedure for Player Invitations
After your proposal has been approved you invite players to join the team.  The players have 48 hours to accept the invitation.  Invitations must be sent from the AYSO coach account, to provide an auditable record of the invitation, along with a time stamp.  The players accept the invitation by paying their registration fees on the page.  Every day during this period, a list of all players that have accepted positions will be emailed to you, permitting you to track who is responding.  After 48 hours, you can then email the persons that have not accepted to let them know they have been dropped from the list, and that if they want back on the list they need to email you to be considered again.  You also send an email to the players in the next acceptance round, informing them that they have 48 hours to indicate acceptance.  Note that all communications regarding invitation and acceptance must be in the regional mail account, for audit purposes. 

Suggested Invitation Letter

Dear Parent,
Your player has placed well in the Tryout Evaluations, and by way of this email is being invited to join a team.  Congratulations!!

You must confirm your acceptance of this invitation within 48 hours, or an alternate player will be invited to take the slot, instead.

To confirm your acceptance you pay your fees at the following web page,

Be sure you know what you are committing to as a family for your player to participate.  Check the page,

Best Regards, and lets have a great season together.

Suggested Invitation Letter for an Alternate Player

Dear Parent,
Your player has placed well in the Tryout Evaluations, but has not made the first cut.  We would like to invite your player to participate as an alternate for our team.  This would mean that once your player enrolls in the Instructional program, your player can train with our team, scrimmage with our team, and when we have games or tournaments where we need additional players to fill a roster, your player could join for that game or tournament.

While there can be no guarantee that your player would ever be called to play a game or tournament on the roster, it occurs often enough that almost always the player will get some opportunities.  And, best of all, by training and participating with the team, your player will have a better base of skills for the tryouts next season.

Please let us know if your player would like to enroll in the Spring Instructional, and train with our team as an alternate.

Suggested Condolences Letter

Dear Parent,
We appreciate your player's interest in our Advanced Program and for Trying out, but your player was not able to make the team.  Your Tryout Fee is not refundable, but if you would like it applied to Spring Instructional registration, go to the page, and follow the instructions there. This will register your player for the instructional program at a discount equal to a credit of the tryout fee.

Regards, And hope to see your player trying out next season.

Gordon Short,
Oct 26, 2013, 7:53 AM