Team Formation Policy

Saint Paul Blackhawks is a community-based club that strives to create the best developmental experience for all of our players, at all competitive levels.

  • The goal of the Team Formation process is to create a system in which individuals can be placed at a level of play that will help them best develop their skill as a player over the upcoming season.
  • Individual and team development work best when players are placed on teams with others who have similar commitment and skill levels.
  • Blackhawks staff are committed to placing players on teams where it is felt they will best develop their soccer skills.
  • Teams are formed through a formal evaluation process as outlined below, with the additional input of a previous season’s coach (when possible).
  • Our Coaching Directors are responsible for hiring and placing professional coaches for all teams.

Formal Evaluation Process (U9–U19)

The Saint Paul Blackhawks places teams in all MYSA competitive divisions including Gold, Maroon, C3, C2, C1 and Premier, as well as US Club or MRL leagues as deemed appropriate by the Coaching Directors. The Coaching Directors along with the Blackhawks Board determines the number of teams that an age and gender group can support based on player skill levels as demonstrated in the tryout process.

  • The Coaching Directors run club tryouts and evaluations.
  • Ages U12 and above have tryouts annually for year-round teams. Ages U9–U11 have evaluations biannually for fall and summer team placement.
  • Sessions consist of players competing against a group of peers in various individual and group activities. Participants are assessed on various skills including technical skills, tactical application, and other general athletic attributes (see Player Placement below).
  • There is a fee for all U12 and above players participating in the tryout process.

Players Missing Tryouts

U12 and above players unable to attend the formal evaluations are not guaranteed a spot on a team. They must contact the Coaching Directors for more information.

Player Placement Factors

The following factors are considered in the formal evaluation process (not ranked in order of importance):

  • Technical: Looking at the overall technical abilities of the players including; first touch, passing technique, trapping, shooting form and accuracy, as well as dribbling skills.
  • Tactical: How well the player knows the game including positioning, awareness, decision making
  • Athleticism: The pure athleticism of the player including speed, endurance, agility, and size.
  • Qualifying for a specific team one year does not mean that the player will automatically be placed with that same team or coach in the following season or year.
  • Final decisions on player placement rests with the Coaching Directors. The Coaching Directors may solicit feedback from the Developmental/Competitive directors and former/returning coaches. Team managers and Age Group Coordinators are not involved in the player selection process.
  • Prior experience with the Blackhawks will be considered when making decisions for team placement.
  • Any additions or modifications to completed teams will be made at the discretion of the Coaching Directors in consultation with the team coaches and Developmental/Competitive directors.

Notification Process

  • Notification of placement on a Saint Paul Blackhawks fall and summer season team will be posted to the website (blackhawksoccer.org) as results are finalized. The player’s first name along with the first initial of their last name and tryout number will be posted as notification of team placement.
  • The Coaching Directors will select the division (playing level) for teams U9–U13. At U14 and above, MYSA teams are subject to league promotion and relegation policies.
  • U9–U11 players must be registered by the announced deadline to be placed on a team.
  • U12–U19 players have 7 days after the team placement is posted on our website to accept their position and pay their team dues (or begin the financial aid process if applicable). Failure to do so may result in a player losing her/his roster spot on the team.

Post Placement

Multiple Teams / Same Playing Level

When multiple teams exist in one age group at the same level of play, the Coaching Directors will use the following criteria for team placement.

At U9–U11: Teams will be balanced within the pool (e.g., if we have two Maroon teams at the same age, we will do our best to ‘balance the teams’ creating similarly competitive teams).

At U12 and above: Teams will be formed using a ‘tiered’ approach, essentially creating a top team and a second team within the same playing level (i.e., both teams could play C1 but one team will consist of players rated 1-15 and the second would be players rated 16-30, or at whatever team size is determined by the Coaching Directors a best fit given the age and talent pool).

We realize that there may be special cases from time to time that need to go beyond the scope of the guidelines above to create the best experience for our members. At any time, the Coaching Directors can present for Board approval alternative plans for team formation such as creating tournament teams, US Club teams, NSC Super League teams, or NSC Academy teams.

General Team Information

Team Roster Size

The number of players on each team may be a function of the number of players registering for any season and other specific team considerations as determined by our Coaching Directors, with input from the Team Coach. We generally follow the league guidelines for roster size, and are subject to league maximum roster sizes.

  • U9–U10 teams play 6v6 and roster 8–12 players
  • U11 and U12 teams play 8v8 and roster 10–14 players
  • U13 and older teams play 11v11 and roster 15–18 players

Playing Time

U9–U11 and C3 Teams

It is our policy that participants at U9–U11 and all C3 players will get a chance to play multiple positions and will generally get equal time in games over the course of the season. Player development is the focus at these levels of play.

Coaches can reduce playing times for reasons such as the following:

  • Missing or disrupting practices
  • Tardiness to practice
  • Failure to notify coaches in advance regarding absences from practices or games
  • Failure to follow coaches directions

U12 and above (Premier, C1, C2 divisions)

At U12 and above in the Premier, C1, and C2 divisions, playing time is not guaranteed. Coaches have discretion to field the most competitive team, including designating positions and playing time. When and where a player plays is strictly up to the coach.

Coaches can reduce playing times for reasons such as the following:

  • Missing or disrupting practices
  • Tardiness to practice
  • Failure to notify coaches in advance regarding absences from practices or games
  • Failure to follow coaches directions

About this policy: A committee of the Board of Directors drafted this policy to unify and improve transparency of existing practices for our membership. The Board adopted a draft of this policy June 14, 2015 at it’s regularly scheduled meeting.