What Do Coaches Look for in Varsity Soccer Players?
Varsity soccer players are accomplished players. Although high school soccer players usually can't compare to those playing at the college or professional levels, they have already reached a high level of skill development. To play the game at a high level, soccer players need a lot of conditioning, great ball-handling skills, offensive and defensive instincts and the courage to make big plays when the game is on the line.
Soccer coaches want players who can make quick movements on the run, as this helps put pressure on the opposing defense. When a player can run down the field at full speed, cut into the open without slowing down, accept a pass and make several strategic moves before firing a pass or attempting a shot, that player has proven herself to be quite valuable. Soccer coaches can ask players to perform several ball-handling and agility drills during the tryout process, but the biggest test comes during games when players use their agility to throw off opponents.
While your overall skill level is important, endurance may be an even a bigger factor. Soccer players must constantly run up and down a field that is about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide, and they do not have the benefit of calling timeouts. The only time the clock stops is when injuries occur. Players must run and sprint throughout games to create goal-scoring opportunities and prevent opposing teams from scoring goals, so having great endurance is essential.
Soccer is usually a low-scoring game dominated by defense and goalkeepers. Players with great offensive skills are very valuable to coaches because they can create offensive opportunities for themselves and their teammates. Dribbling the ball with ease is one of the first indicators a player has good offensive skills. Another sign is the ability to pass the ball over or past the defense to a teammate running at full speed. A pass with this kind of accuracy allows the teammate to receive the ball in stride and fire a shot. A top offensive player will also recognize any weakness in the defense and shoot the ball quickly and accurately to take advantage of the situation.
Protecting the Ball
Coaches look for players who can protect the ball once they have possession of it. This is called shielding the ball. A good varsity player knows how to position her body between the defender and the ball so she can maintain possession. This is normally indicative of strong competitive instincts and the ability to handle the ball well with both feet.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.