Olympic Development Program

Letter to Sam

Dear Sam,

I'm thirteen and playing on the Camarillo Eagles for club. I have to say I love the competition, the people I play with and mostly I love the sport. I'm hoping to get a scholarship to Pepperdine. I have been reading your tips in the soccer newspaper and glad to say some of your tips work. In order for me to get ready for ODP, what kind of things should I do to get in shape? If you could write me back, that would be great.

Thanks, Ashley

Olympic Development Program

The Olympic Development Program acts as a training ground to prepare young players for possible National Team or Olympic Team selection. Many of the top male & female players in the U.S. have come up through the ranks of the ODP.

In addition, the ODP offers the players excellent exposure to college coaches and scouts. In fact, one ODP committee member stated that "ODP players are usually recognized quicker by college coaches than any other group of players."

The ODP operates on four basic levels: District, State, Regional and National. District tryouts for ODP are open to all players, the cost to tryout varies from state to state. In California the cost is around $20.00 at the District level. District tryouts are in September in California, and are generally run over two consecutive weekends. Again, the tryout dates vary from state to state. The tryouts usually try to work around the high school soccer season and the high school season varies across the country.

State Tryouts are around $50.00 in California and are held in November. Only District ODP players are eligible for the State level. State players can pay anywhere from $210.00 to $300.00 to attend the Regional camps. The Regional camps are usually 5-7 days long and the cost includes room and board. If players are accepted at the National level, the cost of the National function is often covered by the Regional committee or by US Soccer.
A typical District tryout session consists of two, two-hour evaluations held on two consecutive Saturdays or Sundays. The evaluation includes drills to assess the players physical condition and ability, technical ability (passing, heading, dribbling, shooting, trapping, etc.) and tactical awareness.

The evaluators used to assess the players are usually coaches from the area. Most coaches have a state or national coaching license. The ODP tries to to maintain a low evaluator to player ratio, somewhere between 1:5 or 1:10. During the tryouts, each evaluator is given an opportunity to evaluate every player at many different drills. The evaluators watch each player and assign a numerical rating of 1 to 5 points (1 being low and 5 being high) at each drill. The players are then judged by the total points accumulated. the scores are kept confidential and will not be released to any parents or players.

The tryouts will utilize a series of drills aimed at testing the players abilities. These drills may include timed runs and sprints. There will be shooting, passing, heading, trapping and dribbling drills and a variety of match-related activities such as: 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 5 vs. 5, 8 vs. 8, and 11 vs. 11 scrimmages.

As for hints on tryout out: Physical condition is very important. If you are in great shape, coaches can't help but notice you. Also, it's impossible to impress anybody with your skill and knowledge if you don't have enough energy. To get in shape, I would recommend a series of sprints at least three times a week. Start with a good warm-up. Then try the following: 8-100 yard sprints, 10-60 yard sprints, 12-40 yard sprints, 14-20 yard sprints. It may take you awhile to build up to it. After the sprints, do some ball work. Dribble around making sharp turns. Kick the ball against the wall 100 times with each foot. Practice one and two-touch shooting at a target on the wall. Practice juggling. Juggling is great for improving your touch, but you probably won't be asked to juggle as part of ODP evaluation, however, it is still important.

Remember that ODP tryouts are like any other tryouts. A good attitude can go a long way. Coaches notice how you conduct yourself on the field. Sometimes it's not important that you are beat on a play, what is important is how you react after you are beaten. Do you hang your head and swear at your maker, or do you quickly apply pressure with a fast transition? Are you attentive to the coaches directions or are you screwing around? Being an easily coachable player is worth a great deal.

Another little hint: Coaches aren't real good with remembering names, and although you will be wearing a number on your jersey, wearing neon pink shorts will help. It is guaranteed that every coach will remember the player with bright pink shorts. I hope this was of some help to you. For information on your local District tryouts, please notify your local state office USYSA affiliate. For information other than tryout dates, call USYSA in Dallas, TX at 1-800-4SOCCER.

Ciao for now.


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