Everyone in the world of football has probably been involved with trials. It’s a very important part of the job. Any mistakes made during the selection of players might be costly. Not only for one specific season but for the future of a club.
I think everyone knows what they are looking for when selecting players. The most talented ones will be picked by any coach, but a portion of the team will be selected based on the football philosophy the maestro wants to implement. Someone might chose a center back based on his speed and strength, which are obviously necessary, but I would never pick a CB who can’t move forward or have a very good pass.
The approach will obviously change depending on the age group. In the younger groups we’re not only looking for talent and performance but also for potential. As the players get older we know there’s less room for development, and the decisions are made based on what the player can show here and now. It’s the performance phase and coaches and clubs want to win games.
Having said that, one thing is paramount when organizing trials: The organization. Chances are that there will be dozens or even hundreds of players. How to run it smoothly in a way that all the players will be decently observed and everyone is kept moving at the same time?
I’ve seen it done in many ways but I really like the way my club is running it at the moment under the new TD. What he does is split the field in 4 areas, with one activity on each area and all running at the same time. We are running it in a specific way, but it doesn’t matter. The club or coach can pick the activities that he might think are important. In each area there should be 1 or 2 coaches and the Head Coach of the team should be supervising all of them. The coaches will have lists with the trialists numbers and all the observations will be handed to the director and head coach so that the data is crossed.
We also can’t neglect the importance of talking to the players to see how they carry themselves, how they interact with teammates, and their general behavior. If you are chosing between two average players, it will be much better to pick the one will cause less trouble during the season and will contribute to a good environment.
At my club all the coaches are part of the ladder of age groups, so that everyone is involved from the beginning with all teams, including the firsts. It’s essential that coaches handing over teams are present as they have precious information to pass on. Plus all age groups tactics and activities will reflect what’s being done in the first time. I’m absolutely delighted with it. Even if a coach disagrees with what’s being done, consistency brings results.
And most of all, it brings reliabilty. Any parent, supporter, or director that steps into the trial sessions will be able to identify what’s happening there, and it looks like organized and professional from the outside. The parents feel like their children are being given a fair chance. Especially in Australia where the players pay to play, the clubs are seen are service providers. So it’s important for the business not to just be good, but to look good.