Tips for Creating and Giving a Football Player Evaluation

  When do you give a football player an evaluation?  In the beginning as a goal setting tool?  At the end of a season to motivate and improve the player during the off season?  The answer is very simple.  Give an evaluation anytime you feel the need.  Feedback should always be welcomed by players from the coach.

 As a scout it's important to evaluate everything from football techniques to the psychological aspect of the player.  For most it's recommend to evaluate a football player on the basic position skills along with coachability and commitment to the sport.  You can find player evaluation forms in the playbook section.

 For most it is obviously easier to keep it simple.  Evaluating each player on more than 12 skills takes to much time.  Could be beneficial for the player but it can take a coach an hour to do each one.  The first two evaluations are great, but by the time you get to the 15th evaluation you 're too tired to write another good one.  Here are topic suggestions when doing football evaluations.

- Technical - the players basic position skills (passing, catching, tackling .. etc)
- Tactical - attacking the offensive formation, attacking the defensive system (putting pressure on the opponent)
- Physical - in shape to perform the tasks needed, speed, agility and quickness
- Psychological - effort, attitude, concentration

 Again, check out the evaluation forms for ideas or print and use them.  One important thing is to form your own opinion of the player and not listen to others unless they are willing to sit down and discuss the evaluation with the player.  The hardest thing I have to do is tell a player he does not have what it takes to remain with or get signed by a pro football team.  At least I know it's my opinion not someone who has negative issues with the player.

 When it comes to scoring you can use a couple different scales.  Either a numerical scale like 1 (low) to 10 (high), 1 (low) to 5 (high) or an alpha scale like US = unsatisfactory, S = satisfactory, E = excellent.  Another consideration is what score to give.  If you are working with young players and plan on two evaluations, one in the beginning and another at the end of season, it's best to initially score low to show improvement at the end.  With older/pro players give them the score they truly deserve.  You are not doing anyone a favor by not being truthful.  It's better that a football player knows what to work on instead of figuring it out when his/her dreams are on the line along with the teams championship thoughts.  Besides .... I've never met anyone who does not need improvement.

 Don't forget the comments.  Comments are a very important part of an evaluation.  Comments not only give players the specifics of what they do well and need to work on they jog your memory about the player a year or two down the road.  An important sentence in your comments are the ones that tell the player how to improve.  Evaluating a defensive back for example, "Instead of  crossing your feet and chasing the receiver, let him cross your nose and open with your foot in the direction of the ball carrier to put yourself in position to make a tackle.  If you work on this fundamental, your tackling will improve."

 Other things to make your comments effective are:
- Use adjectives that inspire your players to improve (excellent, superb, exciting, exceptional .... etc)
- Be positive.
- Use the sandwich technique (positive comment, critical comment, another positive comment)
- Mention professional players (retired and current) as examples

 When reviewing an evaluation with the player face to face it's important to consider where you sit.  Psychologically it's best to sit next to the player on their left hand side.  This makes the player feel like you are on their side working with them to improve.  Sitting across from the player makes the evaluation feel like a disciplinary meeting rather than a positive evaluation.

 During the face to face it's important to let the player talk (within time and reason).  This gives you, as a coach, realization to issues you may have  not known.  Plus, communication is important and it is much easier to get players to understand your suggestions for improvement.

 Remember that evaluations are not a method to criticize a player.  It is an improvement tool.  When a player knows what they need to do to improve, they understand and feel better about practice.  This gives them, and you in practice planning, direction and focus in building a successful team instead of wasting time and energy.  A good evaluation can improve performance giving the player and coaching staff something tangible that needs to be worked on while improving communication.

 A closing note pertaining this subject is to hand out self evaluations.  It can be effective for the players development.  It gets players to think about their strengths and weaknesses.  Believe it or not, most players do not know what skills they need to work on.

 Building your team and players into success stories is the reason for giving evaluations.

Yours in football,

 Coach Z

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