Evaluation + Team Formation = STRESS!

Earlier this month Kings Hammer Soccer Club announced plans for tryouts and team formation.  This announcement generally elevates the level of stress felt by all parties: Players, Parents, and Coaches.  Given the changes in the tryout and team offers that have been introduced by Ohio Soccer, this year could provide even more of this stress.  For this reason, we thought it would be appropriate to explore how all of us may be able to manage this part of the game a little more productively.

To kick off (pun intended) the conversation, let’s explore where the STRESS comes from.  In an interview last year with Soccer Parenting, Sports Psychologist Stu Singer framed it this way:


Here are the four triggers to our fear.


These four triggers lead to one thing: LACK OF CONTROL!

As a parent your mind is telling you these or similar thoughts

  • What if they don’t make this team, what if there are new players, what if the coach is new?
  • if I can take all the worry away, they won’t have to worry
  • if I can get them in the right place, they can be seen the right way
  • If I can keep them from struggling, they won’t face hardship and failure
  • If I get the outcome that I want, they’ll get the outcome that they want

We are struggling to predict a future with too many variables that we cannot CONTROL.

As parents we have to recognize that we cannot control the process and we do not own the outcome. We have to embrace that our children are going to struggle, should struggle, and may FAIL…and that is OK. More importantly, parents need to recognize that if you are full of anxiety, you child is going to feel it and it is likely that it will impact their performance.

So, then the question is what do we have some control over as a parent? What can we do to handle it productively?

Here’s what we can have some control over.

  • Let’s make sure they are rested. We can’t force them to sleep but try to get them to bed early.
  • Let’s make sure that they ate relatively well.
  • Let’s make sure that they’re hydrated.
  • Let’s make sure everything is packed up and ready to go
  • Let’s put them in a positive environment from house, to car, to field, and back
  • Acknowledge feelings of stress, worry, and doubt – theirs and yours

There is one other action that both parents and coaches can engage in to help players be prepared for evaluations, team formations, struggles, change, and perhaps even disappointment.  Ask them this question: “Who are you as a player?”  Then let them form the answer…it will be hard for the adult (parent or coach) to sit this one out, but you need to.  It may even take them several conversations to get to an answer.  Here are some prompts that may help them:

  • When are you your Best Soccer Self?
  • What are they doing when they’re at their best?
  • What do they look like, sound like and feel like?
  • It cannot be outcome description.
    • NOT “When I’m at my best, I’m scoring hat tricks.” “I am my best keeper when I make every save.”

What they can say is, “When I’m at my best, I’m taking people on. I’m making decisive runs. I’m demanding the ball.” “I am moving my feet.” I am taking good approaches.”

Parents and coaches can reinforce and model this approach with their conversations with the player/child.

  • If they are a goal scorer, don’t talk to them about scoring goals. Talk to them about what it looks like to score goals. If they’re a defender, don’t talk about every tackle being perfect. Talk about what goes into defending well.
  • Ask them what outcomes they are hoping for at the end of a season, what they hope to accomplish or what level they hope to play at next.
  • Coaches can work to reinforce appropriate responses and should also be ready and willing to redirect inaccurate or unrealistic responses.
  • Coaches should provide key steps to their development towards expressed goals

Both coaches and parents need to start these conversations EARLY.  Keep in mind that sometimes we have to introduce something and allow them to just process it and sit with it before they can answer.

In addition, players (and many parents) need to be reminded that evaluations at the club level are not just a one- or two-day Tryout Date.  They are on-going and continuous.  Players do not change WHO they are at a one day evaluation, they establish this over the months of practices and games during the season.

Here are some additional resources both parents and coaches can explore on this topic:

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 |