Players across the nation wonder what it takes to become an ODP player at the state, regional or national level. Some players possess technical skills, others can kick the ball a long way, and others have blazing speed. But does having one of those gifts attract the coach’s attention? Maybe, but being able to do two or three things better consistently than your teammates really grabs the coach’s attention. Players can also attract attention by being well rounded in their thinking skills and multi-positional in their game-playing skills. The most important attribute that all high-level ODP players have is the ability to control the ball and be comfortable with it in possession. In other words, coaches watch how players handle the ball and what they can do with it!
When choosing state, regional and national players, coaches look for a blend of types of players who all work hard to win the ball. They need players who have the talent to recognize and take advantage of opportunities to "finish" or score goals or to set up goal scoring. Coaches look for a perfect mix of "workers" and "players," the constant and flashy.
Each coach has his or her own idea of that proper blend, but the following 10 components are always considered when selecting players for ODP teams.
- Touch on the ball: Control of the ball while in possession, with both feet. Player obviously comfortable while in possession of the ball.
- Balance: Being in control of the body and able to change direction while controlling the ball.
- Technical speed: The speed with which a player can effectively use their skills in controlling and playing the ball.
- "Coach-ability": The ability to listen, understand instructions and carry them out. This is also the ability to develop good habits.
- Work rate: The willingness to push oneself to the limit. Playing both ends of the field, both offense and defense.
- Awareness: The ability to recognize opportunity in front, behind and to the side, whether it is a shot, a pass, or a dribbling chance to advance. Reading the "shape of the match", one’s "game sense."
- Reaction to failure: Coaches want players who are able to continue to play hard after a bad break or mistake. No dropping the head and disappearing mentally.
- Leadership qualities: The ability to communicate, not just talk, to others, to demand the ball, to take charge in intense situations.
- Physical speed: Being fast, being effective enough without being exploited by opponents.
- Size and strength: The ability to physically compete against bigger opponents.
Many components are important to making an ODP player. Different positions call for different abilities. During each ODP camp, whether at the state, regional, or national level, the player learns new ideas about the game. They have the chance to compare themselves to others of the same high caliber and the opportunity to learn from talented and caring coaches.