Webinar Recap: Successful Spring Tryouts Despite COVID-19

How to Host Spring Tryouts Despite COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly everyone’s day-to-day lives, from working at home, to learning virtually while schools are closed, to staying indoors, and even pausing sports.

From the NBA to MLB to collegiate and youth sports, athletics have been suspended while the world tries to stay healthy and avoids spreading the novel coronavirus. For youth athletic organizations, this has created doubt and confusion about upcoming seasons and tryouts.

To help clubs navigate this unprecedented time, TeamGenius hosted a webinar for more than 200 attendees with GO! to discuss how clubs can hold tryouts and form teams while in-person events are suspended.

Watch the webinar and read some of the key takeaways below.

Why Do Clubs Hold Tryouts?

To determine how to proceed with evaluations and team formations during COVID-19 quarantines, it’s important to first acknowledge why your organization holds tryouts. 

TeamGenius CEO and Co-Founder Chris Knutson and GO! Founder Ruth Nicholson asked the webinar participants what are the most important reasons that their club holds tryouts. The majority – 76 percent – said it was to place players on the right team. Fifty percent said it was to figure out how many teams they will have for next season.

While each club may have different reasons for why tryouts are held, it’s important to determine the overall goal to pursue the right option for how to cope with shortened spring seasons and uncertain tryout timelines. 

How to Accomplish Tryout Goals if You Can’t Hold One

During the coronavirus outbreak, organizations are facing issues they’ve likely never dealt with before. The fields and facilities they use for training, evaluations, and competition are closed. Teams are not allowed to hold training sessions, practices or games while social distancing is being enforced to stop the spread of the virus. All of these issues have likely put a delay on clubs’ tryouts and team formations for the spring seasons. 

Because of these restrictions, teams need to be creative when striving to achieve their tryout goals – which in most cases, involve placing the right players on teams, and determining how many teams the club will have next season.

Some options can include:

  • Video tryouts: One option is to hold virtual tryouts for players. Clubs can ask athletes to submit videos of themselves from past seasons or training sessions to show their skills. Organizations can also ask players to perform specific drills in their backyard and record them and submit the video to the club so coaches can review. Nicholson suggested instead of having players submit videos of just themselves performing drills that they also include videos of them doing drills with other players – if it’s safe to do so without risking an athlete’s health or spreading the virus. This can help coaches see how the athletes react to others and gauge his or her spacing. 
  • Previous player evaluations: Teams that use player evaluation software can utilize the player evaluation features to review an athlete’s evaluations from previous seasons. This can let a coach or director see how the player performed at past tryouts, what he or she was supposed to work on, how he or she performed throughout the season and what improvements were made. These evaluations can be helpful tools in determining which team an athlete should play on.

How to Form Teams

During the webinar, Knutson and Nicholson asked participants, “Before tryouts, how many players do you already know you want to invite to play on your team?” Forty-one percent said they already know 76 to 100 percent of the athletes they want for their team. According to Nicholson, directors have told her this number may even be higher, as coaches may know 90 to 95 percent of the players they want on their team before tryouts. 

“Tryouts are not always what they seem.

In reality, many clubs face an incredibly tight timeline to hold tryouts, make team offers, and form teams in just a few days. The competition and recruitment for players can be intense. 

Ideally, we want our youth clubs to attract players because they view our club and our teams as a great place to learn, play, develop, and compete in the sport.”Ruth Nicholson (Founder of GO!)

Check out Ruth’s article in SoccerToday “Tryouts in a Coronavirus COVID-19 Compromised Community

If that’s the case, then given this environment, an option for teams to be able to form teams quickly – and still generate revenue for their club through player registration fees – is to form the majority of the teams without holding tryouts. Organizations can then complete rosters and fill the remaining spots later, after health restrictions have been lifted. 

This allows clubs to place the players they already know they want on a specific team based on past performances and player evaluations. This can get the season up and running quickly after quarantines are over.

But, what about the players organizations aren’t sure about, or new players? Clubs can hold tryouts for a smaller group of players after restrictions are lifted, or they can look at options listed above, like video tryouts or coach evaluations.

If players are between two teams – between the A and B squads, for example – Nicholson suggests placing them on one team for now and making it clear that players may be moved around later. She says to tell parents, “we’re putting kids on teams right now. We know it’s not perfect, but we have a window in August where we’ll move kids around.” Nicholson said to be transparent with athletes and parents, explain the situation and give them a timeline for when athletes may be shifted to a different team. However, she states that if you say this, then you must follow through – and do it in the timeline you give. 

Forming teams in this manner can be more difficult for younger players. 

“You don’t have a coach who’s seen them play, and they’re changing so fast as little ones,” Nicholson said. “It’s something of a wild guess and an experiment. This year isn’t going to be ideal for the little ones.”

In these situations, Nicholson recommends being transparent with parents and players when explaining the teams might need to be changed later in the season.

Player Fees

With seasons delayed, organizations could be seeing a drop in revenue. To recover some funds, clubs can look at various options for pay structures for this season to both keep the club afloat and also keeping families’ financial situations under consideration. 

One option is to keep charging for tryouts – if you’ve done so in the past – but consider reducing the fee if the tryouts are going to be scaled back or done via video. There can also be individual considerations for families who are suffering hardships from loss of jobs during the pandemic. 

For the season fees, organizations can look at various options. One solution is to charge players reduced fees if the season is shortened. If the club offers year-round training, then clubs can consider charging reduced fees for the spring or summer sessions and full price for the rest of the year. Like with tryout fees, organizations can consider offering financial assistance to families who have suffered economic hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. 

For more information on forming teams and holding tryouts for your club, join us every Friday at 3 p.m. CT for a weekly open-forum community discussion.

Link to sign up: https://landing.myteamgenius.com/community-4/3

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