Soccer Tryouts: How To Stop The Stress and Help Your Child Perform Like A Champion



Soccer tryouts are a stressful time for players, parents, coaches, and clubs.  Players are stressed about making the desired team.  Coaches are stressed trying to find the best players they can.  Clubs are stressed due to knowing they will have to deal with unhappy kids and parents that get cut, losing players to other clubs, etc.  And of course, parents are stressed about everything.  Will my child have a good coach?  Will my child make the desired team?  Can we afford the added travel expenses next year?  Can I get off work early multiple days in order to get them to tryouts on time?  And on and on and on.  Let’s see if we can alleviate some of the parental stress so we can help you help your child to perform like a champion at tryouts.

You Have To Know What Level Your Child Is Playing Currently

In order to know what level  and where your child wants to play, you have to know what level your child is playing at now.  If you ask a lot of parents, they’ll say “my son and/or daughter play travel soccer.”  However, that often doesn’t tell the tale.  For example, here in North Carolina, “travel soccer” consists of 5 levels.  From top to bottom, they are:

  • Development Academy/ECNL
  • Regional Premier Division
  • NC Premier Division
  • Open Division
  • 2nd Division

Figure Out What Level Your Child Is Playing Right Now

You need to know what level your child is playing.  That means what level team within their age group in the club, such as A team, B team, etc.  You also need to know what level your child’s team plays in.  If you don’t know, a good place to start would be your club’s website.  If you find that website lacking, check with the Youth Soccer Association website in your state.  That website can be found here:

Assess Your Child’s Performance

This is the tricky part that trips a lot of parents.  In order to do this, you have to take as much emotion as possible and put on your analytical hat.  Then, you’ll need to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Is my child level with, above, or below other kids on the team as far as physical skills and technical development?
  2. Is my child level with, above, or below other kids with regards to mental toughness and tactical awareness?
  3. Does my child want to play at a higher level, or would they be happier playing at the same level next year, or even a level down?

Decide What Level Your Child Wants To Play Next Year

Now that you’ve done your research and determined what level your child is playing, it’s time to determine where your child should play next year.  It may be with a team in your club, it may possibly be with another club.  There are many factors at play in this decision, such as:

  • Number of practices per week
  • Flexibility of coach with missed practice time due to other activities
  • Costs
  • Travel demands
  • Potential Playing time

Whatever you decide, make your plans with your child and as a family.  Your child will not shine at tryouts if they are not mentally and emotionally invested in the decision to play for the team he or she is trying out for.

Attend Any Open Houses/Meetings

Be sure to check the club’s website frequently.  Often, open houses/meetings are announced on short notice.  Also, get on the club’s email list if they have one.  Open houses are generally productive, because usually the coaches of the prospective teams are on hand.  This is a chance for you to ask questions and/or address any concerns you may have directly with the prospective coach.

Your Child Should Attend All “Informal Tryouts”

Some clubs have “informal tryouts,” or what I consider the actual tryouts before the tryouts.  At my son’s club, they are called “play dates.”  These are “voluntary” workouts, usually small sided games, where coaches evaluate players in an informal setting.  However, tryouts for the top 3 teams in each of the U13 to u19 are “invitation only”, so where do the invitations come from?  You guessed it, the “play date” evaluations!  That begs the question “How voluntary are the play dates?”  The bottom line is, try to have your child attend all informal tryouts if possible.

Tap Here To See How You Can Help Your Child Shine At Tryouts

The Week Leading Up To Tryouts

As a soccer parent, the week before tryouts is where you earn your paycheck, so to speak.  This is the time you can help your child get physically and mentally ready to shine at tryouts.


Of course, a balanced diet is always key to helping your child perform on the pitch.  However, for multi-day tryouts, it is imperative to load up on carbs, specifically complex carbohydrates.  These are carbs that the body doesn’t break down easily.This will give your child the energy to perform at a high level toward the end of a tough workout or on day 4 of 4 day tryouts.

Look for bread made with whole grains. Barley, rye, oats, and whole wheat are some top choices.

Have your child eat fruits with skins, such as apples, pears, and berries.  All types of beans are good sources of complex carbs.  A surprising source of complex carbs is popcorn.  What kid doesn’t like popcorn?


In the week leading up to tryouts, hydration is every bit as important as nutrition.  Invariably, it always seems the weather turns hot at tryouts, and dehydration becomes a big concern.  Remind your child to drink water at every opportunity.  Try to get them to stay away from soda.  In addition to negative effects of refined sugar, the caffeine can exacerbate the effects of dehydration.  Sports drinks can be ok, but water is best.

Time Management

Tryout week can be a whirlwind of activity, placing stress on everybody in the family.  You should try to clear your schedule of all unnecessary activities.  For yourself, make sure you or someone trusted is available to get your child to tryouts on time, or preferably early.  Check your child’s academic calendar.  Make sure you allot homework time so that they can get any big projects done that are due that week.  In fact, you should schedule academic time in the schedule.  It is important to involve your child in this process, as time management will be one of the best life skills they can learn.

Tryout Week

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to tryout week.  If you’ve done your due diligence, your child will be in a better position beginning tryouts than ninety-percent of the other kids.


  1. You’re relaxed because you know your child is prepared
  2. Your child is less stressed because they sense your calmness
  3. You have done your job as a parent: you have put your child in the best possible position to succeed.


Here is a simple checklist of tryout week reminders:

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Buford Mobley

Buford Mobley is passionate about educating soccer parents and helping to guide them through the bewildering and complicated maze of elite Youth Soccer. He focuses on practical strategies that parents can use to develop confident, successful, and happy soccer players. He is the Father of a daughter who played recreational soccer for eight years, and a son who currently plays competitive travel soccer. He holds a “F” license with USSF.

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