As a function of AYSO’s core philosophies of Balanced Teams and Player Development, new teams are drafted each year with the goal of having as evenly matched teams as possible with rotation of teammates and coaches.
At the end of every season, coaches are asked to rate their players using a common template. Before the season, the registrar takes the ratings and stack ranks players in order the best they can. Coaches are provided a list of players and their stack rank only. Coaches are then randomly assigned a draft order and the coaches pick players round robin until all teams are assigned.
Sounds easy enough: just go down the list, pick the next player and be done, right? You can certainly take that approach and there is nothing wrong with that. You should consider though:
- Not all coaches rate players the same way (or as you would), despite the region’s best efforts. There is always room for interpretation. This causes disparities
- What if all the picks you go for happen to be defenders, or you get 3 amazing keepers, or you lack any strong shooters, etc
- You may want to factor in teammate requests, family/friend relationships, and logistics (same school, carpool, etc).
Because of these reasons I always put some extra effort in beforehand on making sure I had a well rounded team. I think most coaches want to ensure they have competitive (read as: “balanced”!) teams, the trouble is the perceived amount of work it takes to do this. It doesn’t have to be. Here are your biggest bangs for the buck:
- Most coaches who coach in 10u (where our drafts start) are not brand new coaches. They’ve been around a few seasons. As you coach games, take the bit of time to remember the standout players for different positions/abilities. The opposing coaches will almost certainly do a great job of shouting those players names out during the game. Jot your notes down afterwards including what you liked about their play.
- Same as above, but just keep a watchful eye as a referee. Bonus is you get names and numbers written out for you 😉
- Ask a coach who is departing the age group you’re going into. S/he likely can give you some recommendations
- Ask a coach mentor for a sanity check
- Try to get paired up with an assistant who was in that age group previously
Now that you’ve thought about this, please avoid the temptation to take this too far. This is simply about ensuring your team is on par with the others. A little effort here goes a long way and your great coaching will carry you the rest of the way!