Don’t Drop the Ball on Summer Development Opportunities

Summertime means the days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the skies are typically brighter.  But for many youth athletes it can also mean a loss of structure to our days; no school, no practices, no formal games, and a loss of some of the development gains made throughout the past season.  However, with some simple planning and the right focus, athletes and their families can make great use of the summer weeks to maintain, or even improve themselves and be prepared for the next season.

Here are three key areas young athletes can work on this summer:



The summer off season can be the perfect opportunity to spend time focusing on your own individual development by working on specific aspects of your play.  I would encourage each player to reflect on two technical aspects of their play that are strengths and two areas that they wish they were stronger at.  Kings Hammer players may be able to utilize prior Player Report Cards to assist in identifying these areas.  Once identified, lay out a plan to work on these areas 30-45 minutes 3-4 days per week.  Having a structured approach to this can be very helpful.  There are several options that can assist with this.

  • TECHNE-this mobile app, available FREE to all Kings Hammer players, has great training resources for nearly every technical aspect of soccer.
  • YouTube-search the desired area you want to work on and many options will be available for you to follow-along with or to build your own training plan from.
  • Private Coach-there are a number of resources available in this area. You can work on your own or with a small group (get some teammates or friends involved.) Several Kings Hammer coaches are available over the summer to conduct sessions as well.
  • Camps-we are fortunate in this area that there are numerous soccer camp options available. Be sure to check out the coach-to-camper ratio, the history of the camp and staff, as well as the general theme or objective of the camp prior to signing up in order to ensure it will meet your specific needs.  Remember that Kings Hammer hosts camps throughout our program areas that may be perfect for your continued growth.


During the soccer season most players focus solely on the physical requirements of only soccer.  The off season provides an opportunity to use other muscles and improve overall movement, agility, balance, and coordination.  All of the things which will increase athleticism and improve overall performance.  Here are some things to consider while working on this area.

  • New Sports-pickleball, tennis, basketball, karate, and other sports which do not mimic soccer can improve body movement, strengthen weaker muscle groups, and increase motivation.
  • Recreational Activities-hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing, participating in a local 5-K are all great ways to get the entire family involved in physical activity and athletic gains.
  • Backyard Fun-especially for younger players being outside and active; playing tag, getting on the jungle gym, chasing the family dog, or creating their own games or competitions, can be great for both physical development and creativity.
  • Formal Performance Training-for older athletes (U14+) professionally instructed strength and performance programming can be beneficial in off season development. However, be sure the instructors understand the objectives for your son or daughter and be mindful of potential overuse issues.

Keep in mind that summer, like any off season, should also be a time for each player to REST as well.  Down time is beneficial to both physical and mental well-being and is essential to staving off both injury and performance fatigue. Engaging in each of the items listed above is not the goal.  Finding a balance in the summer offseason schedule is key.


Being away from school does not mean you should stop working your brain and your mental growth. Being away from your team and training does not mean you cannot continue to improve your ability to read the game and improve your decision-making abilities. Summer provides many opportunities to invest in learning more about the way the game is played, the styles of teams and individual players, or even the history of the sport and some of its key figures.  Here are some suggestions for raising your soccer awareness.

  • Get out to a match-whether it is FCC, Kings Hammer FC (men and women,) or even a local adult league, there is still live soccer happening this summer. Spend an afternoon or evening checking out the action.  See how players deal with the ball, how they respond to mistakes, and listen to how they communicate with teammates (parental discretion advised here.)
  • Find a game on TV-MLS and NWSL are in the heart of their seasons over the summer. Many games can be found on TV or on YouTube.  In addition, there is the Women’s World Cup, Men’s Gold Cup, and other international matches taking place this summer.  Schedule time to watch a game.  Bring a notebook and pencil and analyze.  Pick a player and track their movement, their decisions, their touches, etc.  Then compare these things to your play and identify things you can continue to work on.
  • READ A SOCCER BOOK-yes, I know…it is summer, school is out…BUT, summer is a GREAT time to READ, and there are lots of great soccer options for you to enjoy. Books on how to perform better technically, how to improve decisions, books on the history of the game, on your favorite team, or even all-time great players! Here are just a few of my favorites (with a variety of reading levels:)
  • Solo Soccer-A Self Teaching Soccer Guide, Greg Bowman (5-12)
  • The Most Amazing Soccer Stories of All Time-For Kids, Michael Langdon (6+)
  • Stars of Women’s Soccer: Third Edition, Illugi Jokulsson (9+)
  • The Beautiful Game – The Most Amazing Soccer Stories Of All Time (12+)
  • Soccer IQ, Dan Blank (13+)
  • The World is a Ball, John Doyle (15+)

Additional Resources

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 |