5 Tips to Prepare for the 2023/2024 Season

The new season is coming up very quickly.  With that in mind we wanted to share the following tips to help parents and players be prepared on and off the field for a successful season.

Tip #1: Get Physical

Being ready for the new season means being ready to MOVE. Hopefully many of the players have been able to take advantage of the camp programs offered by  There are a number of ways to get young athletes ready to be in top condition to perform in practice and in games.

  • Cross Train- swimming, biking, pickleball, volleyball are all great activities to get you moving
  • Running- not just jogging miles…sprinting, darting, changing directions – Tag games are awesome
  • Strength- YES, even young (U9+) players can work on getting stronger using basic Body Weight exercises. Here are some tips:
  • Get on the Ball- juggle, practice moves, organize small-sided games at home or at a park. Using Techne is also great and you can track your improvements
  • Make it FUN- Engage the WHOLE family. Mom and Dan can participate, not just supervise!

Tip #2: Nutrition

Eating right is important in order to fuel the athlete for performance.  But it can’t start the day before the game, or even the week of practice.  It starts NOW.  Time to put aside the summer picnic menu and focus on these simple guidelines:

  • Balanced Diet- whole grain breads, cereals, and lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean red meats) supported by lots of vegetables and fruits (think dark green and orange)
  • Reduce Sugars- try to limit the sugary snacks and read labels, many “healthy” treats are loaded with extra sweets.
  • Plan HEALTHY snacks- starting thinking and planning about pre-practice, pre-game, or even between game (tournament) snacks so that you are prepared with healthy, nutritious, and tasty options that your child will be excited to grab
  • Hydrate- our bodies cannot perform without plenty of water. Start a habit of drinking 8-12 oz in the morning, prior to meals, and at night.  As well as before, during and after activities.

Here are some additional Nutrition resources:

Tip #3: Gear Up

Whether you are new to the game or excited to be returning, it is important that you have everything you need to perform when you take the field.  Here are some key things to remember in order to be geared up and ready to roll!

  • Have the RIGHT GEAR!
    • Soccer shoes, shin guards, a ball, and a water jug are the ESSENTIAL items for every player
  • Have the RIGHT FIT!
    • Returning players should try on all of their gear from last year ahead of time to be sure it all fits.
    • All players need to be sure that their gear is appropriate for their age and level of play
    • Shoes should NOT be too big! Soccer players will struggle to perform (especially younger ones) if their soccer shoes are TOO big.
    • Shin guards should appropriately protect the front of the lower leg but should not be too large. They also should be secured to stay in place (straps or sleeves can be useful)
    • Ball should be age group appropriate, Little Lions-U8:#3, U9-U12:#4, U13+:#5 It also needs to be inflated, so maybe adding an inexpensive pump is a good idea!
    • Water jug should be at least 32 oz or more!
    • Name and club/team should be on ball and water bottle!
  • Parents remember that higher cost DOES NOT always mean higher performance for youth players. The right fit and the right price can be found!

Tip #4: Setting Goals

Establishing goals for the upcoming season can be a great way to focus on things to work on, track development, and provide incentive for continued growth, effort, and participation.  It is important though to be sure the goals are appropriate and effective.  Here are some general guidelines:

  • Personal and process vs outcome- establish goals focused on things that the athlete can control and that are individual focused.
    • Winning, scoring goals, keeping shutouts are outcomes that may not be under the athletes control.
    • Effort, attendance, behavior, new skill acquisition or performance are goals that the athlete can control.
  • United goals- have parents and players both work on a list of goals/outcomes for the season. Come back together and see if these are aligned.  If not, be sure to review and redo!
  • Avoid rewards for goals- incentivizing achievements (especially outcome goals such as scoring or winning) can show short-term positives, but generally lead to lower long-term motivation and/or frustration.

Tip #5: Mentality

Coming into the new season with the right mentality is key for both parents and players.  Fostering good sportsmanship and a ‘Growth Mindset’ can benefit the entire family on and off the field.  Here are a some guidelines to help get everyone get in the right mindset for a successful season:

  • Reframing winning/losing and success- Help your athlete focus more on how they are playing (see Tip #4-Goal Setting)
    • Legendary sportswriter Garland Rice wrote: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.” He was definitely on to something. How children approach PLAYING the game is going to be greater to their future than whether they WIN or LOSE.
  • Encourage persistence- discuss challenges and failures as both a part of the process and learning opportunities. Remind players that the great athletes they see on tv have all had struggles before successes. Use the ‘Success Iceburg’ below to demonstrate what comes before trophies and triumphs.
  • Practice positive self-talk- negativity, whether it comes from the athlete or the parents, can sabotage any performance. Work as a family on developing a more positive environment before, during, and after practices and games.
    • Teach your child to recognize negative self-talk. Listen for when you hear your child say things about themself that are negative, things that begin with “I can’t”, “I never” or “I always”…
    • Help your child turn things around by identifying how they can improve and succeed.
    • Give your child positive phrases to say-“I got this!”, “I CAN do this!” “I AM, I CAN, I WILL”
    • Model positive self-talk at home, on the car ride, and at the field
  • Develop good sportsmanship- Families that focus on things such as teamwork, gratitude, effort, encouraging others, and respect find much more enjoyment in sport, than those who solely focus on winning and losing. Click on this link to see tips from Positive Parenting Solutions on how your family can work together to foster better Sportsmanship this season: 10 Ways to Teach Kids a Winning Attitude – On and Off the Field

Tryout FAQ’s

How do I register for tryouts?
ALL soccer-athletes MUST COMPLETE the tryout registration online before participating in the tryout process. Click here to register now!

*Please make sure that you register online at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that the soccer athlete is in the system and we have your information to notify you after the tryout process.  There is a Registration Steps document on the Tryouts page that will walk you through the process. Each soccer athlete should attend both tryout days if possible. If you are unable to attend both days please reach out to the Program Director listed below.

Birth Years for the 2022/2023 Season
For the 2022/2023 season, Kings Hammer will follow U.S Youth Soccer’s guidelines and will organize its teams by birth year:

*Interested players must register to try out for their birth year.

Can my child play up an age group?
Any player playing up will be at the discretion of their respective director. All players need to register and attend the tryout for their correct age group.

What should I wear/bring to tryouts?
Please come prepared with a fully inflated soccer ball, proper footwear, shin guards, and water. Each prospective soccer-athlete will receive one free Kings Hammer Soccer Club tryout t-shirt with a tryout identification number on the back of the t-shirt.  Each prospective player will be identified by the identification number throughout the process and MUST wear this t-shirt at each tryout session for the 2022/2023 soccer year.

We will not be able to attend tryouts or are new to the area and missed tryouts. Is there a process in place to allow for an alternate tryout?
Yes! If you are not able to attend tryouts or missed the tryout dates, please register and then contact the Director for the Program/Age Group you wish to tryout for so that arrangements can be made. We also hold supplemental tryouts throughout the year. Roster openings may be limited after the initial tryout period.

What are the differences between Academy and Premier?
Our Academy provides a highly competitive environment for higher-level soccer athletes. This program provides those athletes with the best local training offered by our qualified and professional staff. Our Academy teams play at the highest possible level providing showcase opportunities to College, Professional, and National level programs.

The Premier Program is a community-based program. The Premier Program provides the opportunity for players to play other sports or have other interests outside of soccer. This program is designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

Can I try out for multiple programs?
We encourage anyone who wants to tryout for all levels to do so. Current KHSC players can ask their coach/director for guidance if they are unsure about which program to tryout for. You will need to register for each tryout separately.

If I tryout for a program and don’t make it, can I try out for another program?
Yes. If you don’t make an Academy team, we strongly encourage you to tryout for a Premier team, attending tryouts for at least one day.

If you don’t make a Premier team, the Classic Program may be an option. Contact Michelle Okumura ( if you’d like to pursue this option.

Will there be more than one team in each age group?
Yes, when possible, there will be more than one team per age group, per program. It all depends on the number of players at tryouts and their skill level.

If my child doesn’t make the top team, can they move up during the year?
Yes, there may be opportunities to move up throughout the year as long as the coach/director feels it is in the best interest of the player’s development. There may also be opportunities to guest play across all levels.

What can I expect after tryouts?
After tryouts you can expect communication from the club in the form of an email.  (Please double-check that your email is correct in the PlayMetrics system, this is the email we use) This will either be an acceptance email, offering your child a position on a team, or an email letting you know that they should tryout for a different program. Players who are offered positions on a team may also receive a phone call from their coach. All communication will come within 24-48 hours of the end of the last tryout. You will then have 24 hours to either accept or decline your email before your spot is offered to another child.

What are the next steps if my child makes a team?

  1. If you are new to the club, you will receive more information regarding your uniform ordering in your confirmation email.
  2. If you are part of the Academy or Premier Programs, you will receive the link to Demosphere to register your child in the state system in your confirmation email as well.

How long is the season?

  • Academy
    • U11-U14: August-November, January-May (possible post-season in June)
    • U15-U19: November-May
  • Premier
    • U7-U14: August-October, March-May
    • U15-U19: November-December, March-May

My child is in middle school but plays on a U15 team. Will there be a fall U15 program for trapped players?
Yes, we will offer a program for trapped 8th graders for the fall season depending on interest. The program will run from August to October and is open to players that are currently in the 8th grade that will be playing on a U15 team starting in November 2022. Questions please contact:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley  |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |

Can a team come to the club and join as a team?
Yes! The team can join the Classic Program. For more information please reach out to Michelle Okumura at

Who is in charge of hiring coaches?
If you are interested in a coaching opportunity, please fill out the following coaching form –

Program Directors:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |
Premier Xenia: Brent Lewis |
Premier North: Wil Cagle |
Premier Sycamore: Ryan Handbury |
Premier Central: Michael Ratliff |
Premier South: David Shemilt |
Premier Versailles: Brandon Cummons |
Premier Lexington: Fonyam Atanga |