Winning on Assessment Day

Part I: Thinking Strategically

For coaches, commissioners, parents and players, assessment day can be one of the most important and nerve-racking days of the season. Done properly, evaluations or tryouts should provide the valuable insights needed to build quality, well-balanced teams and show where players need to improve.

But too often, assessments become missed opportunities or tedious exercises, burying coaches in extra administrative work and increasing uncertainty about which players to select. This is largely due to jumping straight into deciding which stations to run and metrics to capture, rather than first thinking about the goals of the event.

You wouldn’t build an entire game plan off a single play, would you?

To ensure these assessments are worth everyone’s time and effort, it’s important to answer some basic questions about your assessment objectives, then match them with the drills or events that will deliver the most useful results. Some of these questions include:

· Am I seeking to balance talent across the league or just identify the best players for a team? House or recreational leagues often prioritize competitive balance and require a more comprehensive look at all players. Travel or elite teams, however, often need to quickly spot the highest level of talent.

· Am I looking for the best overall athletes or position specialists? Searching for the best overall implies an equal weighting to speed, strength and agility results. But adjusting the importance of these skills to fit specific position models can help coaches build more interoperable teams.

· Do I favor simulated game action over stand-alone tests? While every coach would like to see how a player performs when it matters most, full scrimmages are sometimes impractical due to time or field constraints. In that instance, consider which alternative tests or events can provide clues to a player’s game time performance.

· What intangibles are important to the league? As every coach knows, there are many athletic attributes that can’t be measured with a stopwatch: aggressiveness, confidence, perseverance, to name just a few. Are there events that can draw out these attributes in prospective players?

After building a solid assessment plan, then it’s time to get prepped for that important day — which we will cover next in our series.

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