Know Your Role: Managers Edition

Team managers are one of the most important and unrecognized parts of a team. They are the glue that holds a team together. It does not matter if you are managing an under-9 girls team or an under-15 boys team the job is just as important to both. As a manager you have an extremely important part in the success of your team so it is vital that you know your role, responsibilities, and have an understanding of what it takes to be a successful team manager.


The role of the manager is to be the liaison for the team. You are the liaison between the coach and the parents as well as liaison for your team with any competitions you are participating in. It is your job to keep the team running smoothly by looking out for the parents’ concerns while allowing the coach to do their job. Coaches come to practice to coach, not to talk to parents. If a parent has concerns over their child’s development or playing time then that is a conversation to be had between the parent and coach. The daily gripes of the team parents however, are for the manager to either sort out or to bring to the coach’s attention at the appropriate time.

Understand that you are not the coach. You are the manager. As the manager you are in charge of all of the team’s administrative functions. The team manager and coach are a team within the team. Together they keep the team functioning. The coach is in charge of the game. The manager is in charge of the paperwork and welfare of the team families. If you and your coach have a clear understanding with one another the team will function as it is suppose to.

The keys to being successful in this role are communication, dedication, organization, and knowing your team. A lot of responsibility is placed upon team managers and if you do not possess all four of those qualities it will be easy for you to faulter.


Depending on the club’s expectations of you, a team manger can be asked to wear many, many hats. As a team manager, you can count on being a treasurer, scheduling coordinator, and registrar in the very least.

At the beginning of the season you are responsible for registering players to the team at or after tryouts and from there it is your job to register the team for any and all tournaments/competitions. Player cards, rosters, and score cards are also part of the registrar’s responsibilities. Be sure to maintain all team records, results, and information relevant to competition throughout the year.

Your club should have an official treasurer, but at some point you will be in charge of handling and keeping track of your team’s finances. The collection of monthly club fees can be a pain, but someone has to do it and chances are it’s you.

As scheduling coordinator, you are in charge of scheduling practices and also securing practice fields if your club does not provide a secure location every week. This can be a hassle coordinate with what’s easiest for the coach and what works for the parents, and chances are you won’t please everyone. You will be in constant communication with your team regarding practice time and game schedules.


Being a team manager can be overwhelming, but just remember that you are there to help the team be successful.

Cissell Says: Expert Knowledge and Advice for Running Tryouts

Tryouts are here and for a young coach this can be a stressful time. So we decided to pick a coach’s brain on the ins and outs of running tryouts to get a better sense of what goes into it. What better coach to talk to than Chris Cissell?

Do you know who Chris Cissell is? Well you probably do if you are from Kansas City. Cissell has been coaching youth soccer in Kansas City for 20 years. He started coaching in 1993 while playing at William Jewell and is currently coaching U14 and U17 boys club teams while he is also at the helm of the University of Missouri Kansas-City women’s soccer program. If there was a Mr. Kansas City Soccer Award, Coach Cissell would most likely be a finalist every year. Read on to see what Cissell says about running tryouts and get his expert advice for young coaches…and boy does he have a lot of advice for you.

How do you get players comfortable at tryouts?

You have to understand when kids hear the word tryout they come in very scared and nervous. So you have to make them feel comfortable and at ease otherwise you won’t be able to see what kind of players you have because both the players and their parents are so freaked out by the word tryout.

Coach’s tip on having a relaxing atmosphere…
This is just a little thing but I don’t refer to it as tryouts when I’m out there. I refer to it as a training session or I call it a practice. Even though everyone knows it’s a tryout, I try to use a different word than that just to try to get people to relax a little bit.

How long should a tryout be?

It depends on the age group but I usually hold a tryout session for either an hour or an hour and a half. That’s plenty of time to see what you need to see from each player. With the younger ages you really shouldn’t go longer than that because they’re going to lose focus and lose interest.

What are you looking for when you evaluate a player?

Touch, skill, and vision. I like to see their passion for the game and get a feel for how hard they’re going to work. I want to see how versatile they are; are they a one-dimensional player or can they play both offensive and defensive positions. I also like to see if this player can combine and work with others. Can they play in a 2v2 or 3v3 situation where they have to do a lot of quick passes and a lot of give and goes with a lot of off ball movement? Are they the kind of player who gets the ball and dribbles till they lose it every time and continues to take people on instead of trying to get their teammates involved? There’s a lot of different things you’re looking at based on age and the level of your team.

What are the best drills to do at a tryout?

I like to do a lot of 2v2 and 3v3 so you can see kids in tight space and see their decision making skills. You can see their offensive and defensive qualities and it they can combine with people. I prefer small-sided games instead of big scrimmages. Instead of 8v8 or 11v11 scrimmages I push them into 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 situations and see how they can handle that. The kids will get a ton of touches on the ball and are always involved in the game. You can really evaluate them in that situation.

Coach’s advice on a quality tryout drill…
It depends on age groups, but I like to do 1v1 to goal. You see if a player has the ability to not only beat a defender 1v1 but can also score. If someone is a really good defender this can show how well they defend. If you have goalkeepers that are trying out then that’s a good drill to watch them too. One on one to goal can get everyone in every position involved and shows you a lot: who has the offensive ability, who can take people on 1v1, who can finish, how players defend, and how the goalkeepers play.

What goes into Coach Cissell’s tryout plan?

I like to start off doing skill work. Individual ball work can show you who has the touch and skill. I look to see who can juggle-depending on the age-because I feel like if someone can juggle than they’ve probably been around the ball a lot and play a lot of soccer. Then I like to go into 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, and play some quick transition games. After that, a couple of shooting drills with 1v1 to goal. Depending on the age group there’s a lot of different things you do in tryouts.

Coach’s advice on doing full field scrimmages at tryouts…
Depending on the age and how many players you have maybe a scrimmage at the end, but I don’t even think that that’s necessary unless you feel like you have a lot of players and you want to get them in a game setting. Every tryout is different. If you have players that are coming into a team that is already kind of established and you want to see how they play with your current players and team than a scrimmage could be a good thing to do.

Should a player’s attitude factor into their evaluation at tryouts?

I think attitude is very, very important. It’s especially important to see what their coach-ability is like and what they are like in practice. If you bring all the players together to explain a drill and you talk to them about what you’re expecting and what you want and then a player is not paying attention or is not listening, it’s a big red flag. You have to think, if you put them on your team are they going to be coachable, to learn, and understand what you are trying to accomplish or are they going to be a distraction?

Should conditioning or fitness tests be involved at tryouts?

There’s not a lot of need in tryouts to go on a mile run and time the kids to gage their fitness level. I think you can see that through playing and those small-sided games reveal what a player’s fitness level is like.

Is it hard on a coach to cut players?

I absolutely hate cutting players. That’s the thing I absolutely hate about my job and hate about soccer. I hate having to cut players and go to the kid and the parents and tell them that they didn’t make the team. This time of year is very, very stressful. It’s awful for the kids that don’t make it and get cut, but it’s also awful on the coaches. I don’t know too many coaches that like it.

Is it more important to pick up the best players or piece together the best team?

That’s a great question and I think every coach probably looks at that differently. I like to go back to something that Sir Alex Ferguson said, “I don’t put out my 11 best players. I put out my best 11.” I always thought that was an interesting quote and he said that was one of the best ways to describe his coaching philosophy. Obviously you are always looking for the best players you can get and you’re looking for game changers but if they don’t fit in well with your team, they’ve got a bad attitude, they aren’t coachable, and if they’re not going to work for the team, then I think you would rather have someone that is not as good of a player but a great team player and always puts the team first instead. It’s all about what you are trying to accomplish within your team.

What is one trend you’ve seen over recent years with tryouts?

The game is changing all the time. People are looking for the biggest, fastest, strongest players now, which is not necessarily what I do, but I’ve seen a lot of clubs and teams do that. I‘ve seen other tryouts where they just have the kids race 20-40 yards and it seems like if you are the fastest kid out there you’re going to make the team whether you have any technical ability or not-I don’t agree with that but it seems like that’s how a lot of teams do it these days, just looking for the biggest fastest strongest kid.

Do you have any advice for young coaches going through tryouts for the first time?

Try to have fun with it. Try not to get too stressed out. It is a stressful time, but understand that kids and parents are stressed out too and that sometimes emotions get the best of people. Relax and try to make the tryout fun. The parents are sitting there watching and the kids are playing and they are all stressed out, nervous, and scared-especially younger ages that have never been through tryouts. As a coach try to make it fun and get the kids to relax as much as possible because you only get to see what the players are really like and how good they are if they are relaxed and having fun. If they are scared, tense, and worried thinking, “If I have a bad touch right now, I’m going to get cut.” Then you aren’t going to get to see what they are like. The coach has to set the tone for the tryouts.

Thanks for the advice Coach!

Parental Guide to Youth Soccer Tryouts

It comes around every year, bringing parents nothing but stress and anxiety, the dreaded soccer tryout. Tryouts can be just as stressful for the parents as it is for the players. As parents all you want is the best for your children so you want to see them succeed. How they perform at tryouts is up to them, but there are a few things you can and should do to help them be successful in their tryouts. This year, keep your stress level to a minimum and your support to a maximum by following this parental guide to competitive youth soccer tryouts…

1) Register Early

You don’t want little Jack to have to spend the first 20 minutes of his tryout sitting next to you on the sideline as you fill out paperwork because you forgot to do it before hand.

2) Be Realistic

Being realistic and honest with yourself as well as with your child is the most important thing you can do before, during, and after tryouts. From watching countless hours of your child playing soccer, you know how they compare to their peers. Do not set little Jack up for failure by pushing him to believe he should be on the A team when in reality his skills would be better suited for the C team.

3) Talk to Your Child

Tryouts for youth are just as emotional as they are physical. Communicate the possibility of getting cut. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t make the squad, but they might feel like it is. So mentally prepare them for either outcome just to be safe. Remember that your attitude will reflect in your child’s attitude so stay positive.

4) Have Options

Trying out for multiple teams is always good practice. Even if a coach has already guaranteed your child a spot on the team before tryouts have taken place, it is still a good idea to tryout with at least one other club if not two. This is a general rule to follow every year. By doing this you familiarize yourself and little Jack with other coaches and clubs. This extra tryout could lead to invitations for Jack to guess play with other teams as well. At the end of the day though, it’s always good to have options.

5) Coaching is Key

There are a lot of good coaches out there and there are some bad ones as well. Some coaches stress winning while other coaches focus on player development and every coach has their own unique style. Before you commit to a team be on the same page as the coach, because if the coach’s style isn’t what you were looking for or not what Jack responds to than you’re in for a long season. To know if this coach would good for your child to play for talk to the coach and to players/parents that have experience with the coach too.

Follow these five guidelines and tryouts will be easier on both you and your child.