Player Evaluations

The winter is a natural time for coaches to evaluate the progress of their players during the first half of the year. We are always 'evaluating' our players but most of the time this is information we use to make decisions about where to play one kid or another and what we need to work on during training sessions. If you're in a club with multiple teams in each age group, you may share this information with the other coaches in your age group so that you can compare the progress of all of the players.

Over the years I've gone back and forth as to the value, and methods, of giving evaluations to players and their parents. As a young coach I had each player perform each of the moves we had worked on that season. They used each foot and I gave them a letter grade for each move, with each foot. I had a parent completely flip out because there child had never received a 'C' on anything in his life! I tried to explain that the purpose was to show where her son could improve on each move not a overall evaluation of his play. It didn't matter, she couldn't look past the 'C'. She took her son off the team a week later.

That experience put me off evaluations for a long time. I would talk with parents about individual issues but I never put anything on paper.

I was forced to do evaluations while coaching camps in the summer. They were very superficial. We gave the players a ranking of 1 to 4 on each of the basic skills and then gave made a overall comment for each player. It was a joke. No one got a 4 even if they were hopeless. The comments were all so general that they could apply to almost anyone. You might say that I should have worked harder to make them more individual but after coaching all day and then sitting down to write 30 evaluations (15 for the morning group and 15 for the afternoon), anyone would get tired of the process pretty quickly.

My feeling is that written evaluations are for parents. They are not a developmental tool.

In the past few years I've been coaching with a club that requires evaluation. They give us a form we can use or we can do it our own way. With my younger teams I must confess that I just don't see the point. They all need to work on EVERYTHING. The way I've done it is to send an email to all of the parents that recaps the year so far. Then I tell them that they can contact me if they have any specific questions about their son/daughter's progress.

With my older, more accomplished teams I set a time to meet with each family for 10 minutes or so. I use this as an opportunity to review the team's progress and the player's progress toward the goals that they set at the beginning of the year. In my opinion, this is the best way to provide a meaningful evaluation to a player. I spend a majority of the time asking questions of the player and their parents and then discussing the answers. I want them to leave the evaluation feeling good about their progress, knowing what they need to work harder on and most importantly, knowing that I care about them as people and their progress as an athlete.

There has been a good discussion about this topic on the WORLD CLASS COACHING Forum. One of the poster gave a link to an interesting site that has a lot of Soccer Evaluation Tips.

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