Operating any tryout for youth sports club comes with a long list of tasks. Running successful tryouts takes a lot of planning, thorough preparation, and a strong communication strategy. TeamSnap has researched and shared five general tips to prepare for tryouts, but now we’re looking at the operations that go into running the show.
TeamSnap had the chance to speak with Alie Jimerson, member of the Canadian National Team and Amber Hill, professional lacrosse player for Athletes Unlimited and captain of the Haudenosaunee Nationals. We got to pick their brains about what youth lacrosse organizations have done and can be doing to make lacrosse tryouts a successful day. Tryouts are a big reflection on clubs and the strength of leagues, so turning to the TeamSnap club and leagues management solution puts your organization is a great position to leave a strong mark.
“My best advice for a player going to a tryout is to just have fun. It can be so stressful when you feel that you have to be perfect to make the team,” Jimerson told TeamSnap. One way your organization can help ease up the heightened emotions around this day is to have a well structured tryout.
By well structured, this could mean when players and families arrive they know exactly where to go.
“I don’t want to have to find the registration table, Hill said. “You want to have the uniforms set out, someone with an iPad that can check you in, answer some questions and let you know we’re going to start in X amount of minutes.”
In order for a tryout to follow structure, there has to be a certain level of preparation that goes into the event. It has to be properly staffed, appropriate equipment and gear, and adequate space and spacing. If it’s an open tryout for example, where will the parents watch? If it’s closed, making sure that that’s clearly communicated. That first registration table that the players go to to get checked in is the starting point, so it’s incredibly important that whoever is working that station is well versed in the rundown of the day, has all of the player names in one place, and is ready to answer a number of questions from eager parents and families.
Between social media, email campaigns, and newsletters, lacrosse clubs have incredible potential to reach new prospects and advertise their tryouts by marketing. Even if it’s just a couple of emails leading up to the date, this is helpful for parents that are typically juggling many things at once. Hill appreciates email reminders and thinks it is effective in getting more players to show up. One way you can think about emailing is initially sending out a save the date with the tryout details in terms of location, time, age groups, etc right when that information is confirmed. For example if you’re planning on holding tryouts for the fall season in June, that email should be sent as early as the winter to allow parents and players time to mark their calendars and schedule out the other tryouts they may be attending. If you send out a save the date email in the winter it would make sense to have a follow-up email again the spring when the date gets closer. A third email right before tryouts, a week out for instance, would be a great last minute strategy to remind players and families.
“When I arrive at a tryout, I want to see everyone is in the same pinnie and that pinnie fits,” Hill said. With kids coming from all different teams, towns, and sometimes states, it’s crucial to get the players looking uniform so the coaches and evaluators can focus on the playing part and not the noise and crazy colored uniform of their previous team. Same goes for the coaches working the tryout. It’s important that they look professional and are dressed to properly evaluate and represent the organization. While the dress part is important to maintaining an organized look, it’s also just as crucial to demonstrate professionalism in your actions.
“I want to see the coaches engaged and a clear game plan for the day,” Hill said. Engagement can look like taking active notes, interacting with the players, and just showing a genuine interest in finding the best players to join the club.
It’s natural for a tryout to have some bumps during the day. Control what you can control and even if something comes up that presents a challenge on the day, don’t show your stress. Hill said that as a youth lacrosse coach and parent to a very committed 14-year-old lacrosse player, she’s always observing how the organizers carry themselves throughout the day. Just as it’s a tryout for the players to join the club, for a lot of players and families they are always evaluating if this is a place they want to be. It goes both ways. So, even if the players may feel most of the chaos and stress because they are “trying out” the lacrosse club should also be held to a standard of putting on their best performance.
While you’re preparing for your tryout and mapping out the rundown of the day, make sure to think about possible hurdles that could come out. Trouble shoot and make a plan for how to handle situations like injuries, delays, bad weather, etc.
The last piece of advice suggested for running successful lacrosse tryouts is having referees for the playing/scrimmage part of the day. This is not only professional, but also a way that demonstrates your organization prioritizes safety. Players bring their A game for tryouts, so if there’s any time to have a ref monitoring the playing environment, it’s at tryouts. Investing in adequate refs and trainers on site for the tryout show that your organization is forward thinking, prioritizes the overall health and development of your players.
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