If you have aspirations to play competitive or elite soccer, at some point or another you’ll need to prove yourself in a tryout scenario. Sometimes players are evaluated through their performance in a series of training sessions; sometimes it’s a one-time identification event; and other times it’s a training camp or preseason that can last several weeks. Regardless of the environment or level, there are some important elements of performing well and giving yourself the best shot at success.
- Lead-up preparation. The bottom line is: the better the player you are, the better you’ll perform at a tryout. Get in shape for soccer! Your preparation to be your fittest physically, sharpest technically, and focused mentally will give you a lot of confidence when the big day(s) comes. Depending on your age and level, this preparation may mean something different, but it will certainly mean being intentional. Plan your training on a weekly basis, and be consistent!
- Day-of preparation. Once it’s time for the tryout, you should shift your focus towards feeling good. Do some relaxation and visualization -- always see yourself at your best! You can follow along with the Mental Training exercises in the Techne app for guidance. Be sure to fuel well with good hydration and foods your body is used to based on your intentional soccer nutrition. Listen to music that makes you feel happy, and trust that you’ve put in the work necessary to show well.
- Showcase your strengths. Once you get on the field, let your strengths shine! Very rarely is a player not selected due to a weakness in their game. At tryouts, coaches look for qualities that will bring value to the team. The more you can show that you have those qualities -- and what they are -- the better. To stand out, you don’t need to be fancy or become someone you’re not. Standing out at a tryout means doing what you do best, at your best. That may mean your work-ethic, leadership, positioning, passing, or more flashy dribbling and goal-scoring abilities.
- Get outside of your comfort zone. Quite often when players feel nervous -- which is totally normal in a tryout situation -- they may hide on the field. Don’t make the mistake of trying to avoid mistakes. Soccer is a game of mistakes, and coaches and evaluators know and expect players will make them. If you lose the ball, try to win it back, or show for it again. If you have a bad showing in one exercise, try to make the next one better. Keep your soccer confidence high. The more active you are, and the more involved you are in the play, the better. Be decisive, proactive, loud, aggressive, and impact the game, even if those things aren’t comfortable for you. Simply put: the more you do, the more positive a coach may see.
- Maintain positive body-language. Coaches are evaluating players based on ability, but also how they might contribute to the team, both on and off the field. If things don’t go your way, or you aren’t feeling great about your performance, don’t let it show! Be positive, respectful, and stay engaged with the other players at the tryout. Your warm-up, work-rate, sportsmanship, and general presence at the field (even at a water break) are all being evaluated. So from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, stay positive and remember that you never know what a coach will notice!
- Do your best and let go of all the rest. All the top players tell stories of when they weren’t selected for a team. All you can do is prepare well and give it your best effort. If you make the team, that’s great, but really only the start of where the work begins. If you don’t make the team, don’t give up! Some of the greatest athletes in all sports tried out for a team multiple times before succeeding in making it. Either way, you can use your tryout as a learning experience. Could you have been better prepared? What would you have done differently if you could do it over? What did some other players do that you thought was excellent? What did you do well? What did you think you could have done better? Browse our resource on training to be a complete soccer player.
Our Techne Team is rooting for you! And we’re here to help you prepare and continue to improve, regardless of whether it’s for a tryout or day-to-day success. When you take ownership over your development, you earn the ability to decide how good you’ll be by what you do every day. Your soccer journey can be a long one, and this is only one step along the way!