Running the Tryout

Running a Palo Alto AYSO Soccer Tryout

for Spring Select or Fall Élite

Some of the information on this page has been sourced from 

AYSO requires players to be evaluated by 3rd parties for the AYSO Extra. The intent is to ensure that AYSO coaches are not pressured or inclined to favor some players over others in a way that is not in line with the appropriate skills and team composition considerations.  AYSO requires impartial evaluations to be performed, and for written evaluations to be available for every player for audit purposes. 

The Tryout Director or assistant oversees the setup and operation of the tryout.  The Tryout Director will ensure that the needed equipment and registration materials are available at the field.  The coaches run the tryout in accordance with the plan on the right, while the evaluators focus on the players' performance.  Parents may assist the Tryout Director to check in players, and organize the field.

Checking in Players
A blank Tryout Lineup (attached to this page), to check in players must be used.  Each player must have registered for the tryouts and have a signed copy of their player/medical release form with them.  The player form is placed into the binder.  Blank forms will be in the binder for parents that have neglected to bring their form.  Proof that they have registered and paid is required  If they have not paid online, they can provide a check fro $25 make out to Palo Alto AYSO.  

Each player is given a colored and numbered tryout pini.  The color and number of the pini is noted on the Tryout Lineup next to the player's name.  The Tryout Lineup is not to be given to the evaluators and must be kept secure.  When the tryout session is done place the Tryout Lineup in the binder. 

Tryout Structure
  1. Players should have been getting touches from juggling or passing prior to the start of the tryout session
  2. 45 minutes - skills stations, with 15 minute rotations
  3. 5 minutes - Water Break
  4.  45 minutes 1v1, 2v1 2v2 stations  with 15 minute rotations
  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

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 invitation.  No player should be told they are in or out, rather they should be told that selections have not been done yet.

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.

Dribbling Drill
  • Players are divided into 3 groups 20 steps from the goal
  • 2 cones are placed 5 steps apart
  • Players dribble their ball around the 2 cones and shoot at goal
  • 3 players go at same time
  • Players go left and right to the first cone and then as quickly as they can

Push-Pass Drill
  • Players are divided into pairs 20 steps apart, 1 player starts ball
  • 1 cone is placed 10 steps from each player in the middle
  • Ball is placed on top of middle cone
  • Players pass ball trying to know the other ball off the cone
  • Players take turns in their pairs

Instep Kick - Rapid Fire

  • Players are divided into 2 teams, 20 steps from goal
  • 2 coaches stand next to the goal with the balls
  • Coaches pass the ball out to the players who control, then shoot
  • Coaches keep both lines going quickly
  • Everyone shoot controlling ball, then switch to first touch shoot

Additional Drills that evaluators may ask for
  • "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, 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.

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 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.  eMail the information to, and the information will be added to the evaluation.

The binder will be given to the Tryouts Director to enter the player name information to the assessment form.   

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.  Our goal is to send out the initial invitations within 2 days of the conclusion of the second scheduled tryout.

We need to compose the teams bearing in mind the following:
  1. coach's 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 - Coach, 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.  The proposal should 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 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 Region 26 coach account, to provide an auditable record of the invitation.  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 is being invited to join a Spring Select or Fall Elite team.  Congratulations!!

Please let me know of your intention to accept this position.  You must confirm and finalize your acceptance of this invitation within 48 hours, or an alternate player will be invited to take the slot, instead.

To confirm and finalize your acceptance of this position you pay your fees at the following web page,

Best Regards, I look forward to 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 roster.  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, usually most alternate players do get 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.  Unfortunately, your player was not able to make the team.  Your player's soccer enthusiasm is notable, and we hope to see in our Instructional Program.  Sign up at by clicking the red, Register button on our home page.

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

AYSO26 Regional Commissioner,
May 15, 2014, 11:19 AM
AYSO26 Regional Commissioner,
May 15, 2014, 11:15 AM