Mock sports tryouts: Getting kids ready for the real thing

WAUNAKEE, Wis. (WMTV) -- Just of Highway County Q in Waunakee, dozens of kids can be found kicking around the ball. It may look and sound like soccer tryouts, but that’s not the case.

“Tryouts can be such a stressful process for players and for parents, and it’s just an opportunity for them to understand what happens at a tryout,” says Benjamin John, Technical Director for Rush Wisconsin.

As summer approaches, and kids prepare for traveling sports and their tryouts, Rush Wisconsin soccer club holds an annual mock tryout day, to help kids calm their nerves.

“The pressure that the kids feel today is so much different than what we dealt with when we were kids. And I think any way that we can help them be better prepared for it,” says Jacob Gill, Board of Directors for Rush Wisconsin, and parent to 12-year-old Jackson.

Jackson started playing soccer with Rush Wisconsin when he was about 3-years-old. Now playing U13, Jackson is a veteran to the mock tryout process.

“I think it really can help, because it helps you with the … it can help you figure out a personality of the coaches and what they're like, and just get used to what it's like to be a Rush player,” he says.

In the past decade, Gill says he’s seen a lot of progress from his son, both on and off the field.

“What we’ve seen in the growth of Jackson during that time has just been a development in his confidence,” he says. “Hard work, and just effort. And the reward that comes from that hard work, is something that we’ve found invaluable.”

Coaches say the mock tryouts are a way to make their players acclimated with the drills and tests, to be prepared for a real tryout.

“As you know, there's a lot of tension around the tryout process, so we try to get the kids used to what it might look like at this age,” says Jess Nash, Youth Development Academy Coaching Director with Rush Wisconsin. “Some of them don't know what tryouts are. So coming out here and seeing it and going through it helps them so that they can know what it's about.”

Other coaches say they hope the mock tryouts will give their players the confidence to relax when the real tryout comes.

“Think of it as another day in the park when you’re just having fun,” John says.

Tuesday’s mock tryouts were held for the younger players at the soccer club, meaning they won’t have to try out at all this year. Coaches say repeating this process will help kids gain confidence when the real time comes.