Picking Youth Football Players at Try Outs


Zane HogLast Saturday I was evaluating talent at the KYA grass drills / try outs for Sophomore ~ 9U youth football players for a team I will be helping this season.  As usual the youth football talent in North Texas is very good, especially in Keller.  I was very happy to see all the coaches, league officials, volunteers, team moms and the new crop of youth football players.  It was a great morning for football try outs.

Of course, all of us were enamored with the 40 yard dash times.  Wow, look how fast that kid ran the 40.  Whew.  He’s a starting tail back for sure. Maybe. Speed is great but not when the player cannot remember their plays. I look at players much differently after 20 seasons.  Sure they are fast but are they smart and do they show up for practices.  It’s really tough on a team when your starting QB or TB never shows up to practice.

You might evaluate one of the players as the best passer or receiver of the try outs, but do you know anything about them or their parents?  Sure you want the physical aspects of the try out to help you standardize the measurements between the players, but the intangibles are usually what makes the player a champion. During the try outs, ask the players questions, talk to their parents, ask other players if they know a player and don’t forget to talk to other coaches and ask around why this coach released this “stud” player. At a recent try out I had a player tell me that this other player was the best hitter on their team.  We picked him and he was a great hitter and MLB for us.  I’ve also seen the fastest player in the try outs go #1 overall only to watch him sit the bench an entire season because he cannot remember his plays or hates to get hit.

So the moral of this story is do not get hung up on the great speed, size, quickness, arm and other attributes of a player before you find out the players intangibles or history.  You might find out your speed demon misses most practices and his mom is the wicked witch of the west if her baby doesn’t carry the ball every other play.  Don’t waste your number 1 pick on a dud.  Here’s another great article I wrote on drafting players, and two on choosing linemen and defensive players.

Good luck this season
Coach Parker
Keller / Fort Worth / DFW Texas


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One Comment

  1. ” but the intangibles are usually what makes the player a champion.’

    Great point! You can time a player for speed, but their true colors might not come through during tryouts. Are they good teammates or do they want to be in the spotlight at all times? Are their parents “those” parents that make for a nightmare on the sidelines. Will they take criticism on the chin and actually learn from it or sulk about it?

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