Improve Your Process: How To Evaluate Youth Soccer Players

Improve Your Process: How To Evaluate Youth Soccer Players

Youth Sports •

How do you evaluate youth soccer players while ensuring your evaluation process is efficient? In this article, we are going to talk about how to evaluate players more efficiently, some of the biggest challenges coaches often face, and what you can do to streamline and improve your evaluation process today.

Evaluating youth soccer players is often not as easy as it looks. Ensuring evaluations are fair and accurate is a crucial part of your player development. We’ve listed some tips below that should help!

EVALUATION TIPS:

  • The more game-like situations, the better the evaluation.
  • Ensure data is collected at the evaluation itself, not through memory later on.
  • Use a mobile 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. Using the right team management software and evaluation software can help ensure things are smooth and organized for evaluators, players, and volunteers.
  • 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. Evaluator bias can often have a negative effect on players. Having software like “SkillShark” will help eliminate evaluator bias by using normalized data.
  • Architect an evaluation that will test the right skills while finding a way to provide feedback to your athletes.
  • Use the player data that you collect. The data from your evaluations will provide invaluable insights, that can use to strategize at every practice and game.

What is an effective way to deal with common evaluation issues?

Evaluations can be complex, and come with many hurdles: We’ve 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, 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’ve developed evaluation software to take away the pains that many coaches experience during evaluations. It’s amazing to think that coaches can now provide a player report card instantly after each evaluation. That’s immediate feedback to your athletes with just the click of a button.

Having the right system in place is important when it comes to measuring players accuratley. There are a number of variables that need to be considered when conducting an evaluation.

Why evaluate?

Evaluation is extremely important for a number of reasons. First, evaluating players can help in team selection. Evaluations can provide coaches with multiple opportunities for implementing skill development. Lastly, evaluations can be used as a foundation to help players focus on their own development.

What should you evaluate youth soccer players on?

Youth soccer players should be evaluated by several criteria including physicality, technical skill, physicality, awareness, knowledge, adaptability, and teamwork. 

There are a handful of key factors to consider when evaluating players.

  • Your ability to rank competencies and provide ranking information will help you better place players onto teams.

  • Sharing feedback with players and parents can significantly enhance your program, and additionally, contribute to your overall player development.
    • Below, you will see two report cards, the one on the left has been evaluated using “comment only,” metrics. This is generally a great way to evaluate younger kids. The report card to the right is showing both subjective scores and metric rankings. This is a great way to evaluate when kids become a bit more competitive.

SkillShark Evaluation software allows you the coach to customize your evaluation template to be whatever you like. Reports like these will not only provide your players valuable feedback, they will help your players with their overall development, and provide parents confidence in your organization.

When using SkillShark Software to evaluate athletes, you’re able to supply both kids and parents with instant player report cards.
  • When using SkillShark software, you now have access to in-depth performance information. The “Strengths Vs Weaknesses” chart below, is an excellent way to compare athletes when drafting or picking top players.
This image is taken from SkillShark Athlete Evaluation Software, showing how easy it is to compare players after an evaluation.

The Problems

The 3 biggest problem areas we saw with the player evaluation process of young athletes are:

  1. Athletes almost never received any formal feedback on their performance after an evaluation
  2. Coaches spend countless hours doing data entry into spreadsheets to try and make sense of the data
  3. Parents are often unsatisfied with the justification for the placement decision of their kids and very seldom receive information to help understand what their child needs to work on and develop

It all comes down to information. A coach’s time is already spread thinly that they rarely have the time to reformat information in a spreadsheet. Let alone to a “form” consumable for each athlete. As a result, the athlete and his/her parents never understand WHY they didn’t make the top team.

Technology today can solve all that. Having the evaluators gather information through the SkillShark app or website simplifies everything to the point that the young athlete can now receive a report card on their performance before they even have their cleats off. A coach can spend time analyzing information instead of doing days of data entry. Lastly, parents can finally have a clear indication of what their child needs to work on in order to be considered for the top team next year.

Create Productive Evaluations

Building productive evaluations will help ensure your players improve and succeed. Be sure to create evaluations that are fair, equal and unbiased to all players.

Make the Skills Being Evaluated on are Clear to Kids 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, when 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 as opposed to 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 players and parents before the tryout. In this meeting, let parents know the criteria, how it works, and why you are using that system. Being proactive will help against any parental problems that may have come up otherwise. 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

Breaking out 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 Rating/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 is called a Thirds System and 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 “3” in the bottom third. The main drawback to this system is that it lacks granularity. Using a 0-10 scale (like the one above) allows for more distinction between players, making it more accurate for team placement.

When it comes to building your “criteria”, SkillShark Software already has templates built-in that 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 iPad.

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

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 favoritism that may cause headaches. When using SkillShark Evaluation Software, coaches can work around the “bias” more effectively. Player data is readily available, making it much easier to build teams and draft top selections.

This chart shows how easy it is to view evaluation results and sort players onto teams.

Be sure to give yourself ample time to build and execute your evaluation process. Make sure players, parents, and evaluators are crystal clear on how your process works. Also, ensure you find the right balance when it comes to constructive criticism and motivating your players. This will keep things fun while allowing your players to grow in all the right ways.

Interested to learn more about SkillShark?

Click HERE to book your free demo and receive a 25-player free trial.


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.