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Steps to Consider When Running Your First Evaluation

Steps to Consider When Running Your First Evaluation

Youth Sports •

There are many things to consider when running an evaluation, especially if this is your first time in the driver seat role. Stress can run high as there are drills to plan, schedules to align, and at the end of it all… teams to be made. As coaches gain experience, they tweak their individual processes and adapt their ways of doing things. Our team has tweaked and adapted many tryouts over the years, and thus this list was born. Here are a few things to consider as you approach your first-ever evaluation.

1. Write down a list of equipment… no matter how small! 

Document who will bring what equipment and when they will arrive on site. Even if this will be yourself, having a checklist is important. Alter this checklist as registration numbers increase and always make sure you have enough balls, pucks, pylons, etc to reflect the number of athletes attending. If you plan on running the event in big heats, have enough equipment to make this happen. Generally speaking, an evaluation cannot start without the proper equipment, so start your day off with a win and leave no question when it comes to what will be used.

As an added bonus, consider having an extra set of equipment for an athlete if they find themselves in a situation needing something. Think of hockey- if a player’s stick breaks early in the evaluation and does not have an extra, having something there for them shows preparedness on the organization’s end. 

2. Map out help from others

There will likely be the need to have extra bodies to help run a tryout event. Sometimes this is assistant coaches, and other times volunteers or paid third-party groups are needed to run a smooth show. Make sure your registration starts far enough ahead of the evaluation date so that you have time to figure out if you will need to have extra help. Have a meeting with the people who will be there, whether they are volunteers or paid. Use this meeting to instruct them on what you will need them to do, and also find out where their assets lie. Determine who will be handling administrative tasks such as the registration table, who will be helping with equipment or set up on tryout day, and of course, determine on field/evaluator help. These extra hands will be a key part of the evaluation day and will help things run smoothly. Consider bringing in one or two more bodies than you think you need and most importantly… don’t forget to ask for help when needed!

3. Create a Schedule

Coaches know exactly what they want or need to accomplish throughout an evaluation day, but often go in blind when it comes to timing. Setting a schedule keeps everyone on the same page, including evaluators, volunteers, and even athletes and parents. This schedule should ensure that there is ample time to run the drills or stations that you have selected. The schedule should allow for things such as drill explanation, transition time, water breaks, and warm up/cool-downs. Good timing will allow an evaluator to enter scores for athletes, type notes, or even take videos of the athlete performing a drill or skill. 

4. Understand the Data

A successful evaluation starts by recording scores and ends with the data collected. An athlete evaluation software makes it easy to collect the data scored through mobile devices or tablets during the event. By eliminating the data entry process, coaches can move straight to analyzing and using the data to create teams or divisions. You can even run reports with select content and send them out to athletes for feedback.

By eliminating the first barrier of data entry (and saving tons of time in the process), you can easily understand what scores have been collected and simplify the next steps. Use the software to run reports, compare athletes, track progress over time, create teams, and even export to popular team management systems such as TeamSnap and SportsEngine in the click of a button. 

5. Communicate with parents

One of the largest issues within youth sports evaluations is that athletes have never had the opportunity to receive feedback on how the event went. By using athlete evaluation software, coaches can determine what information to share with athletes and parents, and with a click of a button can send out reports or data to all kids. This removes inquiries and discussions on why athletes are placed on the teams that allow parents to actually see the thought behind the decision-making process. Even if coaches choose not to distribute this information, having it on hand to discuss with parents completely revolutionizes the communication process and makes the experience better for everyone. Athletes understand areas of weakness, and parents can make decisions to help guide the athletes in the right direction. The best way to show confidence and professionalism is to defend your decisions and stand by them. Having data to back you up will allow the parents to accept that there was a solid decision-making process. 

Evaluations are hectic, but there are tools out there to make them easier. SkillShark Athlete Evaluations is modernizing the approach, and saving coaches time along the way. Coaches report saving over 50+ hours by using the evaluation software. Our biggest tip is to use technology to create efficient evaluators and data-driven results. 

Elanne Krainyk

Elanne is SkillShark’s marketing aficionado who is equal parts passionate about sports, marketing and sports marketing. She can usually be found with a golf ball or three in her purse, and her favorite way to spend downtime is out on the course with friends and family.