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Travel Soccer Assessment Process

Whether it’s your first time or third, we understand that Travel Assessments can be a stressful time for you and your children.  We hope that an explanation of the process will help alleviate some of that stress and let your child better enjoy their Travel soccer experience.  All Travel teams practice on the same fields, wear the same uniforms, travel to the same Essex County towns and are coached by our volunteer coaches.  Placement on the right team is designed to help lead to a better overall experience for the players.

Please note that Travel soccer is a two-season (fall season and spring season) commitment. Travel teams practice two times per week (90 minute practices) with games on Saturdays in Andover or throughout Essex County. Game times are usually scheduled between 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Fair, objective and thorough: Assessment Components

The goal of the Assessment process is to maintain a fair, objective and thorough process for assessing player abilities and skills in order to place each player on a team that will best challenge their current level of play. ASA uses a three-part process to place players on appropriate teams:

Coaches’ Evaluations
Coaches provide ASA with written evaluations for each of their current players. Coaches evaluate players based on technical skills (e.g., control, receiving, ball distribution, coachability), game performance (e.g., communication, attacking, defending, game intelligence) and team commitment/attendance.

Assessment Days
Over the course of one or two days, evaluators observe players in a series of small-sided games designed to enable players to demonstrate competency in a variety of soccer skills and abilities. Players wear numbered pinnies and are not identified by name or current team. No parent, coach or relative is allowed to participate in ASA's Travel Assessment process in which his or her child or relative is involved. The process is designed to provide an unbiased view and opinion of each player’s capabilities relative to his or her peers. 

Game Observations
For many players, Coach Evaluations and Assessment Days provide enough data to accurately place a player on a Travel team. For other players, for whom additional data may be needed, Grade-Group Placement Committee members will observe and evaluate those players during regularly scheduled spring Travel or Intown games.

While no assessment process is perfect, ASA believes this three-component process does a good job of providing fair and unbiased evaluation of each player’s current abilities and skills and provides the right information for proper team placement.

Assessment Process

General Information 

Players must register with ASA for the upcoming season before their first scheduled Assessment session. Remember to register for the program that corresponds to the grade your player will be entering in the fall.

If more than one Assessment day is scheduled for the player's Grade-Group, the player is encouraged to attend both days. Players who do not attend at least one day of Assessments will not be considered for the top teams in their Grade-Group, unless special circumstances (illness, injury, prior important family commitments, etc.) are communicated via email to When possible, this should be done prior to the first day of Assessments.

  • Players should attend the Assessment day(s) that correspond to the Grade s/he will be entering in the fall.
  • Players must wear shin guards and cleats, and bring a soccer ball and water to the Assessment days.
  • Players may wear their ASA jerseys, but should not wear jerseys that represent non-ASA programs.

Assessment Day Process

A team of evaluators assess the players’ skills and abilities relative to their peers. Volunteer evaluators may include current and former ASA coaches, ASA Board members, soccer playing parents and community members, local college athletes, and hired professional coaches. Evaluations will be kept confidential (and are not provided to players or their parents).

On Assessment day(s), players are checked in and given a numbered pinnie.  That number is the player’s identification. If they are scheduled for more than one Assessment day, then s/he will receive the same number for both days. All observations are recorded by pinnie number only on standardized forms. Players are not identified by name or current team.

Players warm-up and are divided into small groups. Each group reports to a field to scrimmage in a 5v5 game.  Evaluators  watch the players for about 10 to 15 minutes reviewing each player against their peers. At the end of each scrimmage players will be moved to fields with other players that best match their skill level.   This process of scrimmaging and player movement continues to provide evaluators with the best opportunity to view each players’ ability relative to their peers. 

At the end of the Assessment day, the evaluation forms are collected from each evaluator and the Assessment data is compiled.
What Evaluators Look For
Below is a sample of the skills and techniques that evaluators will attempt to evaluate during Assessments.

Dribbling – ball control, speed with the ball under control and ability to beat players 1 v 1, 

Passing – technique with both feet (inside/outside of foot), crisp/accurate passing to feet and to space, pace of pass, movement after passing. 

First Touch/Ball Control –receiving the ball in front of body, positioning to field when receiving, head up and field awareness after controlling ball.

Shooting/Finishing – technique of driving shot with laces/inside of foot, body position on shot, follow-through, decision on when/if to shoot, following shot for rebound.

Defending – marking player, pressuring player without over-committing, body position when defending, stopping forward progress, tackling/gaining control of ball, knowing when to clear ball vs. dribble/pass.

Shielding – body position when under pressure, “showing the ball” or shielding from defender, back to defender or side to defender. 

Speed – quickness off/to ball, acceleration to ball/space, change of direction and deceleration. 

Strength – standing ground and/or winning position. 

Aggressiveness – attacking and going to the ball on defense, attacking and dribbling around/through defenders on offense, attacking and finishing shots. 

Communication – calling for the ball, directing players to space, encouragement

Field/Game Awareness – head up view of the entire field/game, awareness of other players, knowing when to pass vs. dribble or shoot, seeing plays materialize and moving to position. 

Attitude – fun/enjoyment on the field, positive interactions with other players/referees, not giving up on plays, sportsmanship, coachability, overall potential.
Team Formation

A Grade-Group Placement Committee is formed for each Grade-Group of players. Each Committee is composed of three or four members that include ASA Board Members and qualified ASA volunteers. No coach, parent or relative with a child in the relevant group is allowed to participate in any part of that group’s assessment process, including team formations.

Each Placement Committee reviews the compiled Coaches’ Evaluations, Assessment Day Data, and Game Observations.  This information forms the foundation of player placement. Team rosters are completed and then presented to the ASA Board for final approval.  ASA Board Members with children or relatives in a particular Grade-Group are excused from the room and excluded from discussing and voting on team rosters for that group.

Each Placement Committee assesses the team strength for each team in the relevant Grade-Group and recommends placement in one of four divisions in the Essex County Youth Soccer Association Travel League.  The placement recommendation is based on the skills and abilities of the players on the team. Players will be notified of their team placement for the following fall season after the conclusion of the current spring soccer season.

Teams are primarily formed by grade. For example, 8th graders are primarily placed on a team with peers in their grade. However, there are cases due to player numbers where teams can be made up of mixed grades. This is at the discretion of the Board with the intent to maximize the number of players per team and playing time.   Any decision is voted on by the Board.

Teams can also be blended which means that the committee head identifies a large group of players with similar skills and Assessment scores and blends the players together as one group. This results in two teams being formed with similar skills vs. placement via stack ranking. In the event that ASA chooses to blend teams the Travel Director will recommend that both teams be placed in the same division within ECYSA.

IMPORTANT:  Players who register for Fall or Spring ONLY are not eligible to be placed on a top team for their age group.  Additionally, if a player who is registered for the full year and is placed on a top team withdraws for the spring season, they will not be eligible to be placed on a top team the following year.  Coaches provide player evaluations to ASA at the end of the year, including attendance.  If a player remains on a team for the spring but does not regularly attend ASA travel team practice or games it may affect future team placement.  


Travel soccer information session:  Thursday, May 5th, 8:30pm (via Zoom-see email for link)

 5th Grade
Night 1: Wednesday May 18th 
Night 2: Monday May 23rd 

 6th Grade
Night 1:  Monday May 16th 
Night 2: Wednesday May 25th

 7th Grade (one night)
Wednesday, May 11th  

8th Grade GIRLS (one night)
Monday May 9th 

8th Grade BOYS (one night)
Thursday May 26th* 

  • Check in starts at 5:00pm. 
  • Assessments run from 5:30-7:00. 
  • Girls will be at Upper Shawsheen Field
  • Boys will be at Lower Shawsheen Field
  • *8th grade boys ONLY at Deyermond Field