Kids In Teams


Sports Trials - 10 tips to help make these better for the children

Steve Jenkins - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

At my local club I have re-named these from trials to assessments as we are assessing children to see which team we believe they should play in. The word which trial can put the fear of god into most adults. Assessing the technical level of a child in any sport - in my case football - is a job of great responsibility.  I have observed these at a number of clubs. I am startled by so many things I have seen. Children as young as 11 given a tap on the shoulder and told not to return next week. Life has its pleasant surprises and disappointments. If the odds of a child making a given team are say 1 in 5 then those making the decision can take the trouble to provide some feedback.

I have run assessments at my local club over the last 3 years observing around 300 children each time (boys aged 12 to 16).  I have made plenty of mistakes along the way in the name of trying to do the best for each child taking part.  The checklist below is not one that says "do this and everything will be fine". I have done it because I need it. Its a reminder of the responsibility

  1. Have an objective   - Mine is to place children in teams with others of similar ability playing in a competition with similar teams to maximise, development, self-worth and enjoyment.
  2. Define your criteria - If you broadcast these you are likely to get inundated with questions - these are for the assessors and for discussions with parents after the event.
  3. Judge based on your Criteria - Your judging needs to measure children against the criteria - again its good feedback to give parents particularly if they compare their child against another.
  4. Appoint appropriate judges - The judges need to be qualified to assess the criteria and be credible.
  5. Make it enjoyable for the children - Make it like a normal training session - talk to the children all of the time while they are playing. Crack a few jokes - help them relax.
  6.  Remove obstacles - The main obstacles are parents - shouting encouragement for their own children and worse of all trying to coach them.
  7.  Explain the process - The most important people to explain things to are the children - so they understand what its about - I always make them clear of the objective - to place children in teams with others of similar ability playing in a competition with similar teams to maximise, development, self-worth and enjoyment. Focus on the children before the parents.Parents generally fret about the outcome but it helps to keep them informed.
  8. Accept that mistakes will be made - Tell people mistakes can and will be made. Telling parents you are right and they are wrong does not help them accept your decisions.
  9. Keep detailed records - Have detailed results so that you can explain your decision - parents and children may not like the decision but if you can provide evidence for the result it will help.
  10. Be consistent, open & honest -if asked explain who the judges are, what other information (coaches reports, history etc.) is used  The most important – don’t lie to protect and don’t b******t,  – If you tell the truth then you can don’t have to remember what you said. Be sensitive when you deliver the news.
Children find sports trials unnecessarily stressful as they are being measured against their peers

Remember its all about the kids

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