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How Coaches Think: Making the Top Team

You are trying out for your club team and are really working hard on the field and off. So do you make the A team? Well there is more than just performing well in one setting. Coaches factor in a variety of skills to make the top team. Want to know the inside scoop? 


This is obvious. Having great skills both on and off the ball/puck are vital to being a top player in your sport. How do you get those skills to continue to develop? Keep practicing when no one is watching. To do that, create your own pressure by timing your skill and doing it over and over again. Coaches will notice when your skills improve. They are looking for skill improvement from one season to the next. 


Coaches want players that are consistent. This means that if you play at a high level, you play at that high level each and every time you step on the field or court. This does not mean you don’t make mistakes, actually you make mistakes and deal with them. Not sure you are consistent? Ask your coach and then ask how you can be more consistent in games and practice. As a coach, I measure consistency in players based on seeing them play time in and time out.

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Coaches want players that can perform under pressure. My test in a player is what they do against the good teams. If a player can handle pressure and continue to attack, I know they can handle it. Those are the players that I want to play on my A team. When the team is loosing, how does that person respond? I look for gritty and tough players that never give up. 

Pace of Play

One skill that players and parents often overlook is pace of play. This means that as better teams gain speed and are faster with play, how does that player look. Do they look lost or are they in the mix and not one notices them. If no one notices them, it means they can handle the pace of play of the game and practice. They blend right in with the pace of play. During drills, I have put players in practice pods to manage pace of play and skill level. I call that “needing more time to cook”. Those players need to make sure they can perform skills at a certain level and continue to focus on a faster pace. Once they do things consistently, then they can move up. See how it is all connected? 


Coaches want a player with a strong mindset. This can mean a few things but what I look for is what happens to that player during and after they make a mistake. Do they pout or do they keep going and try to win. Forgetting that mistake and moving on usually separates players in the pack. Everyone makes mistakes so it is more about how you handle that on the field and off that matters. 

Ever wonder what coaches hear from parents around making the top team.

Things we hear from parents

Youth sports parents have a love for their child and want was is best of them. Coaches have the same love and want what is best for all of the kids. Usually that means making hard choices during tryouts and through out the season to pull together the best teams with the goal to win. 

There are a few things we hear from parents as teams are formed. 

My son or daughter works hard

Every player works hard. I have never heard a parent say their kid doesn’t work hard. At the end of the day, it comes down to skill and the other factors. Players that work hard day in and day out will have improved skill levels each season.

You should take the players “book of work”

This was a recent term I heard from another coach. They were told this by the parent. They wanted their players work in that sport over time to be considered for the A team. Even though the tryouts didn’t show her as a top player. Here is the downside to take a book of work. What happens to the players that continue to elevate their skills over time and each season? And have better skills than that player? Aren’t we creating a meritocracy? 

They were on the A team last season

It is never easy to put a player that was on the A team in a past season on the B team this season. The challenge is in having players continue to grow and elevate their play, then the B level player plateaus. It may not seem fair however if the goal is to win and create a meritocracy, then hard decisions have to be made. 


Our iSport360 Exclusive Three Part Series on How Coaches think About Making the Top Team, Playing Time and Being a Good Teammate. For more from iSport360, click here


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February 27, 2023

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