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Expert Advice: Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

Expert Advice: Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

What are the most efficient strategies for evaluating youth soccer players at tryouts?  In this article, we are going to talk about how to evaluate youth soccer players at tryouts more productively, some of the biggest challenges coaches often face, and what coaches and sports organizations can do to streamline and improve their evaluation process today.

Problems With Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

  1. Athletes almost never received any formal feedback on their performance after an evaluation.
  2. Coaches spend countless hours doing data entry into spreadsheets and then have to try to make sense of the data.
  3. Parents often feel dissatisfied regarding their kids’ placement decisions. However, coaches rarely provide parents with information to give them a better understanding of the criteria used to make the decision.


It all comes down to information. A coach’s time is already spread thinly, and they rarely have the time to re-format information into spreadsheets, not to mention provide a reasonable amount of feedback for each athlete. As a result, athletes and parents never understand why they didn’t make the top team.

Today’s soccer coach software offers solutions to streamline even the most intricate tasks. When evaluators gather information using the SkillShark App, it simplifies the entire evaluation process. This modern approach means that young athletes can receive their performance report cards before they even leave the soccer field. Instead of spending days on data entry, coaches can invest their time in analyzing data and providing feedback using pre-generated reports.

Moreover, parents can have a clear understanding of what their child needs to work on to be considered for next year’s top team. It’s a win-win situation made possible through the use of cutting-edge soccer coaching software like SkillShark.


What Is the Best Way to Deal With Common Evaluation Issues?

Evaluations can be complex and come with many hurdles. We have discovered a large amount of these complexities can be solved, simply by eliminating the use of paper and spreadsheets during evaluations. Not only do pen-and-paper evaluations waste hours of time, but at the end of it all, very little is done with data and very little feedback is provided to athletes.

For the past 10 years, we have developed a soccer player evaluation app to take away the pains that many coaches experience during evaluations. It’s amazing to think that coaches can now view instant rankings, compare players, and even track their player’s progression over time.


How Can You Evaluate Soccer Players?

Evaluate soccer players across several criteria including physicality, technical skill, awareness, knowledge, adaptability, and teamwork. Evaluations can include providing the following scores: single, subjective, choice, or comments. Your ability to rank athlete competencies will help you effectively identify top performers and place players onto the correct teams.


8 tips for conducting youth soccer evaluations

  1. Ensure skills being assessed are clear to evaluators. For example “agility” could mean different things to different people.
  2. Use a mobile evaluation app as opposed to pen and paper. This ensures easy and accurate evaluations of athletes.
  3. Have a solid check-in process. Using the right team management software and evaluation software together can help ensure the process is smooth and organized.
  4. Make sure you understand how many stations will be required.
  5. Know how much time each evaluator will need to measure athletes at each station.
  6. Use evaluation software to help eliminate the evaluator bias. Evaluation software, such as SkillShark, will help eliminate evaluator bias by using normalized data.
  7. Ensure you architect an evaluation that will test the right skills.
  8. Use the player data that you collect. The data from your evaluations will provide invaluable insights, that can be used to strategize at every practice and game.
Soccer evaluation tips for coaches

Player Report Cards

Using applications like SkillShark can help you gain a deeper understanding of your players while providing the feedback they need to move forward.

Subjective Reports

Athletes can view their scores across a range of metrics and see how they fare to team average.

Comment Reports

Instead of providing subjective scores, athletes are given comment-based feedback to understand strengths and opportunities.


When using SkillShark software, you now have access to in-depth performance data. The strengths vs weaknesses chart below is an excellent way to compare athletes when drafting or picking top players.

Comparison of soccer players

Strengths vs weaknesses chart on SkillShark


The Link Between Software and Player Evaluation

Player evaluations are indispensable in sports, and today’s technology has transformed how we approach them. Firstly, utilizing soccer coaching software, such as SkillShark, can simplify the player evaluation process, making team selection more efficient.

Secondly, coaches can track their players’ skill progression over a series of evaluations and integrate the proper drills into practices that will enhance players’ abilities.

Lastly, feedback provided to athletes can serve as the foundation for players to concentrate on their individual development. This holistic approach benefits the team and empowers each player to grow and thrive.

Steps for Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

Ensure skills being evaluated are clear to athletes and parents

Transparent communication is a good practice for any coach. If you don’t communicate to players properly, you risk them putting extra effort into the wrong skills, or simply not understanding the drills they’re being assessed on.

For example, let’s say you have drills that are focused on agility and speed when moving the ball. In this case, you will need to explain quick ball control instead of showing off fancy footwork.

Also, parents generally like to know what their children are being evaluated on. It is a good idea to have an orientation meeting with all parents before the tryout. In this meeting, let parents know the criteria, how it works, and why you are using that system. Setting clear evaluation guidelines that are fair and equal, along with providing player report cards after the evaluation, is sure to keep parents happy.


Establish the right evaluation criteria

Conducting an evaluation with the right skills, metrics, and categories is very important. Also, knowing “how” you’re going evaluate these athletes. For example, there is a Points System in which you will rate each player on a scale of 0-10 for each of the criteria you establish. We call this a subjective rating.

The other method, called a Thirds System, involves giving each player a grade of 1, 2, or 3. For example, “1” means the player is rated in the top third, a “2” equals the middle third, and a “3” equals the bottom third. The main drawback to this system is that it lacks granularity. By using a subjective rating scale, coaches can differentiate players more accurately as the rating scale is more extensive.

When building your criteria, SkillShark already has built-in evaluation templates where you can easily edit, add, or take away skills and metrics according to your recipe. The template you design will then appear in the app. This means you can evaluate players right from your mobile device or tablet on any criteria you choose.

**It’s important to note that personality and character are weighed equally with physical fitness and skill.

Soccer evaluation template

Evaluation template using SkillShark

Have a solid process for selecting teams

Selecting teams is generally a challenging process for coaches, as they often have a huge amount of bias, politics, and favouritism that may cause headaches. When using SkillShark’s evaluation software, coaches can work around the bias more effectively. Player data is readily available and should be the primary determinant used for any team placement decision.

All scores

A scoring grid makes it easy to view evaluation results and sort players into teams

Want to learn more?

Find out how SkillShark can help you seamlessly conduct your next soccer evaluation.


FAQ — Evaluating Youth Soccer Players

Evaluating youth soccer players is essential to assess their performance, skill development, and potential. It helps coaches, scouts, and sports organizations in making informed decisions during tryouts.

• Use a mobile soccer evaluation app as opposed to pen and paper. This ensures easy and accurate evaluations of athletes.
• Ensure skills being assessed are clear to evaluators. For example “agility” could mean different things to different people.
• Have a solid check-in process.
• Make sure you understand how many stations will be required.
• Know how much time each evaluator will need to measure each metric.
• Use evaluation software to help eliminate the evaluator bias.
• Ensure you architect an evaluation that will test the right skills.
• Use the player data that you collect.

Common evaluation issues, including athletes not receiving feedback, coaches spending excessive time on data entry, and parents lacking understanding of placement decisions, can be effectively resolved by eliminating paper-based evaluations and adopting digital solutions like SkillShark’s soccer player evaluation app.

Youth soccer players should be evaluated based on physicality, technical skill, awareness, knowledge, adaptability, and teamwork.

• SkillShark offers instant player report cards after each evaluation.
• The software provides in-depth player performance insights.
• SkillShark simplifies data collection, analysis, and sharing.

The three major issues are athletes not receiving feedback, coaches spending excessive time on data entry, and parents lacking insight into placement decisions.

• Allocate ample time for building and executing evaluations.
• Ensure clarity among players, parents, and evaluators regarding the evaluation process.
• Strike the right balance between constructive criticism and motivation to make the process enjoyable and developmental.

The SkillShark app lets you import players, create player lists, update player information, and send player reports after evaluations. This makes it a great app for managing a soccer team!

Michelle Corry

Michelle is SkillShark’s dedicated marketing cognoscente. She is an avid athlete, dedicated professional, marketer and creative visionary. Michelle lived and breathed sports most of her life, being awarded athlete of the year back in early 2000, including a rugby scouting invitation from Team Canada. SkillShark has changed her perception entirely in terms of what she thought was possible in sports evaluation today.