EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

5 ways to assess playing ability before the season starts

Whether you are putting together a new soccer team, getting in players to strengthen from last season, or the next-door neighbour is badgering you to let his child join the team, you need to be able to assess playing ability – it’s a big part of getting ready to start the new season.

Start your planning using my 13-step guide Stage your own soccer trials. It gives you hints and tips about what you should be doing, how you should do it and what you need to achieve from it.

Now you need some sessions to run – Skills round-up is my go-to session for running trials. It is a compact game that is easy to control and enables you to see what every player is doing. It is easy to see if players are at the level you need.

Another good session to run is one where communication is key to the set up. The last thing you want is a player who can’t get on with his team mates, so test their communication skills with a small-sided game called the Sweeper game. It’s a brilliant way to get new players involved and talking on the pitch.

I always run a session where players have to listen out for an instruction from me because it shows they are listening and concentrating on the task I have given them. In Transitions: your number’s up players listen out for their number to be called – when they hear it they join a different game.

Finally, for those of you wanting to see how younger players react at training try Chain Gang. It’s great for seeing how active the youngsters are and enables you to gauge how hard they try to understand and take part in the game. It’s good fun and a brilliant way to see if they will fit into your team.

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