Soccer tryouts bring a mix of emotions for many players. Some players might be trying out for the next level in their club. Some might be trying out for entirely new clubs or teams. Others could be in front of college scouts. While others are in their yearly spring tryouts required by their team or club.
Tryouts are held in different styles. Players may be evaluated in a series of training sessions or a one-time identification event. Whatever the level or environment for the tryout, players need to be prepared to work hard and play at their best.
As USWNT forward Alex Morgan says “if you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough.”
With a little bit of preparation, you can have a standout performance at your soccer tryouts.
In this guide, we will take you through 5 tips that will help you become and feel prepared for tryouts.
Chapter 1 – Preparing for Tryouts Mentally
Chapter 2 – Nutrition Leading Up to Tryouts
Chapter 3 – Drills to Work on to Prepare for Tryouts
Chapter 4 – How to Stand out at Soccer Tryouts
Chapter 5 – What Coaches Look for in Tryouts
Chapter 1 – Preparing for Tryouts Mentally
Soccer tryouts can go from making you excited to making you anxious and nervous quickly. This is completely normal and okay. But try not to put too much pressure on yourself. There will always be other opportunities.
Positivity and Confidence
The best way to handle tryouts is to go out with an open and positive mindset. Know you will most likely meet some amazing new soccer players, many of whom you can learn something from.
When an athlete uses positive thinking, they can enhance their performance. When you think positively you will show stronger skills because you go into the tryouts expecting success.
Studies show that when athletes think about their athletic skills positively, they perform at higher levels than athletes who do not believe in themselves. Positive thinking leads to higher self-confidence.
One such study showed that when tennis players used positive affirmations on themselves before a match, they improved their confidence levels and increased the accuracy of their groundstrokes.
When we look at pro athletes, we tend to think they are calm and have everything under control. It’s important to know they feel the nerves and anxiety just like you. It’s GREAT to be nervous as it focuses you. What separates them is their ability to accept the nerves and channel their focus towards what will make a difference in their performance and outcome.
NFL Kicker, Justin Tucker had some interesting words to say on nerves in this great interview. The nerves are there, everyone has them, but being able to channel your focus to what you need to do (kick the ball, pass the ball, shoot the ball) that is the important thing. Remember you trained for these tryouts, and you know your fundamentals. Then you can calm your nerves and focus on which skill you need to perform and how.
Do not focus on the coaches watching you and what they are thinking. Confidence is the biggest thing you need to have before tryouts. Remind yourself that you are playing a sport that you love. Focus on the two or three things that you can control that when done right lead to good outcomes.
Mental preparation is another key in preparing for tryouts. Using visualization to help you focus on what you are going to do out on the field can help you calm your nerves. Don’t just focus on plays.
Visualize yourself showing up to the field. Visualize calming your mind and body and playing the way you know how you can play. Then on the day of tryouts, revisualize these steps and notice how quickly you move out of the nervous stage.
“My best advice is to breathe and remember what it is that you love, soccer! Allow yourself to feel the nervousness and anxiousness, but also remember to breathe and not overthink the moment.” – Blayze Coach Cassie Miller
Blayze has an amazing article here on mental performance and how to prepare your mind to play at peak performance.
Make a Plan
Many times, planning helps to clear the nerves on focus on what you need to get done.
Start by finding out how many days away the tryouts are. Then break those days down into weeks (if you have that much time) and create a training regimen.
Get out a blank calendar and fill in the days of the week you have team practices and games. Then take your extra days to devote to your tryout preparations. Which days do you want to work on strength and conditioning? Maybe you want to spend one day a week doing extra speed dribbling drills?
Write these down and make a weekly goal to work towards. Using an athletic development planner like this one can help you stay organized and focused leading up to your tryouts.
Write in each day of additional training what drills you want to work on. It might be best to consult your current coach or ask your private coach, what extra drills you could focus on. Do you need to work on your crossing skills? Or is your game knowledge lacking in movement off the ball? If your coach does not have the answers to this, then definitely look into a private coach for assistance.
Avoid using generic drills from random online sources to supplement your training schedule for tryouts. Generic drills are just that, generic. Anyone can download generic soccer drills. You want to ensure that the drills you are working on will help you in tryouts and beyond.
Don’t forget to check with the club on what you need to wear to tryouts and prepare those items. In addition, do you need any forms or have your parents sign anything? These small details might be small, but they can add a lot of unnecessary stress if ignored.
Write out a list of all items you need and steps you need to complete before arriving at tryouts. Do not wait until the night before! This will add stress and can cause you to lose focus before tryouts.
Know the schedule for the day, or week, of tryouts. Know your arrival times and plan on being early so you do not miss any extra instructions from the coaches. Being early will allow you time to meet with other players and develop a connection with them and the coaches.
Chapter 2 – Nutrition Leading Up to Tryouts
Focusing on your skills and exercise regimen is only one part of preparing for tryouts. You also want to make sure your nutrition is in order to give you ample energy and sustainability while performing.
When figuring out what to eat and how much to eat, it is going to depend on the length of the tryouts. Is it 2 hours a day over the course of 3 days or is it a one-day 2-hour tryout?
Make sure you start hydrating several days before your tryouts. Hydration is key to muscle performance, and it can take days for your body to be fully hydrated. You should start hydrating your body at least 3 days before your tryouts.
Research shows that athletes that are properly hydrated perform better than dehydrated athletes. Hydration levels vary depending on the size of the athlete, the weather/environment, and the type of activity they will be performing.
It is generally recommended that athletes:
- Drink 3 liters of water a day even if you are not exercising.
- Drink 20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before athletic performance. Then another 20 ounces
- 30 minutes before.
- Waiting until you are thirsty is too late. This is a sign of dehydration.
The day before your heavy workout/try-out, drink extra water and mingle in 100% juice or other nutrient-rich fluids. Monitor the color of urine so that it is pale yellow and not clear.
When you get a water break during the tryouts, make sure you are drinking your water or an electrolyte drink to help replenish those fluids.
You should not make any major changes to your diet before tryouts. You don’t want to risk upsetting your stomach or accidentally not eating enough to fuel your body.
During the week leading up to your tryouts, avoid eating too many highly processed foods. These are not good fuel for your muscles and can make you perform slower. Plus, they can slow down muscle recovery and you do not want to be sore or tired at tryouts.
During the week leading up to tryouts, focus on fueling your body with high proteins, carbs, and veggies. The day before your tryouts, try to eat a carbohydrate-rich dinner like chicken and rice. The carbohydrates will provide fuel for your muscles and the protein helps with muscle repair.
Try to eat a balanced meal two to three hours before your tryout so your body maintains proper energy levels. If you are a soccer player that has an easily upset stomach, try drinking a fruit smoothie or protein drink instead.
Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or high in fiber as pre-tryout meals. These types of foods can cause you to feel sluggish or heavy when running.
Zoe Morse, Blayze Soccer coach, recommends eating a good dinner the night before with a balance of carbs, veggies, and protein. “Eat a good breakfast the day of! Eat something that you enjoy and know your body feels good eating.”
If the tryouts are long and there is a snack break, take one! Bring a banana or a protein bar. Something that is light on your stomach but adds energy back into your body.
“Be sure that you help yourself as much as you can as far as nutrition and hydration! Control the controllables is always what I try and do my best with. Hydration should start at least three days before an important day like a tryout. Making sure the night before you are fueling up, eating your carbs and proteins. On the day of the tryout, continue to hydrate and fuel your body to perform to the best it can.” – Blayze Coach Cassie Miller
Chapter 3 – Drills to Work on to Prepare for Tryouts
Earlier we mentioned that you want to avoid generic online drills. Remember, not all online drills are created equally. Here at Blayze, we curated a list by our elite-level, professional coaches for what they consider to be the best drills to focus on before tryouts.
Again, using a private coach is an excellent way to focus on exactly what you need to be doing. But if a private coach isn’t available to you, then these amazing drills should help you round out your skill set nicely.
Below is a curated list from 3 of Blayze’s amazing professional soccer coaches. These are not just field player drills, we have drills for you goalkeepers as well!
Coach Sarah is an NWSL midfielder for the Chicago Red Stars and a 2012 U20WNT World Cup Champion. Her recommendations for drills to prepare for tryouts include:
1 – Juggle in Place – All Surfaces
This is a great warm-up and also a great way to get your touches in. Try to get all different types of surfaces in. This is a great way to feel like you are ready to go and take on tryouts!
Start with a ball at your feet or in your hands. Either flick the ball up or drop the ball and begin juggling in place. Use any surface of your body to keep the ball in the air and do your best to juggle in one small area. If the ball hits the ground just lift it back up and start again.
2 - 10 Yard Jog Dribble – Freestyle
This is a great warm-up as well following juggling. Be creative and be YOU! Have fun dribbling and showing off some of your skills!
If you have equipment available, place one marker about 10 yards away from you. Start with a ball at your feet. At a jogging pace, dribble the ball however you would like to the marker 10 yards away from you. Try different body feints and skill moves you might use in a game. Control the ball around the marker with one foot and return to the starting position on the dribble however you would like.
3 - Dynamic Directional Touch - Right to Left & Left to Right
If you can find a wall or ask a teammate to pass with you. Set up cones and work on moving from side to side! First touch is SO important and can set you up for a great tryout! Try to make the touch across your body perfect so that you can strike a perfect pass back to your partner or the wall.
Start on the right side of the cones. Pass the ball off the wall to the other side of the cones. Take a touch with the inside of your left foot to drag the ball back to the opposite foot. Change directions.
4 - 5 Yard Pass and Collect With Return - Both Feet
This will get you moving, and it works on your finesse. Pass the ball to yourself and run after it! Try to use different turns to get back to the start! These are all fundamentals, but they are so important!
If you have equipment available, place two markers about 5 yards away from you and about 5 yards apart from each other. Start with a ball at your foot. Pass the ball forward about 5 yards with the instep of your foot. Immediately sprint forward and retrieve the ball before turning to dribble around the marker and back to the starting position. Switch feet you pass the ball with and switch the marker you dribble around.
Coach Zoe Morse is a defender for the English soccer club Brighton & Hove Albion. Zoe encourages doing extra individual work in the 2 weeks leading up to the tryouts. This will make you even more confident in your technical abilities and will allow you to focus on playing free at tryouts.
1 - Juggling in Place-Feet Only
This applies to so many technical skills and will prepare your first touch, long balls, and shooting technique for tryouts.
Start with a ball at your feet or in your hands. Either flick the ball up or drop the ball and begin juggling in place. Use only your feet to keep the ball in the air and do your best to juggle in one small area. If the ball hits the ground just lift it back up and start again.
2 - Juggling to Directional Touch-Left and Right Foot
This drill will increase your confidence in taking the ball out of the air, which is an essential and impressive skill at tryouts.
Juggle the ball and kick it above your head. Control the ball using your left foot with one touch toward an outside cone. Dribble the ball around the cone and return to the middle. Begin juggling again and repeat to a different outside cone. Switch to right foot.
3 - 1 Touch Technique-Alternating Instep
Focus on striking the middle of the ball and eliminating bounce.
Using one touch and alternating instep, pass the ball between the two cones.
For all you goalkeepers out there, Blayze Coach Cassie Miller with the Kansa City Current brings you her favorite drills to prepare for tryouts.
1 - Punt Against Wall
Being as sharp as possible with your handling will be the first and biggest first impression for any coach. So especially during a tryout we want to have the best hands we can. By doing this drill, we work on our distribution by practicing our volleys, but also, we are catching a lot of balls off the wall. Remember the more reps the better before a tryout.
2- Shuffle Out - Back to Dive
This drill is good for a few reasons. The obvious is getting sharp with your diving technique. The most reps you can get going into a tryout the better prepared you will be. This also works on your footwork and speed of movement. The faster you can push yourself in a drill like this leading up to the tryout will allow your muscle memory to improve. The more you push yourself to work at a faster pace (but under control) allows your muscles to remember that habit of speed rather than going at a slower pace, and your muscles have a good memory. We always want good habits so our muscle memory can help us be fast.
3 - Speed Jumping - Shuffle to Dive
Another diving drill, just because that is a big part of our position, but this drill will get you prepared for explosive dives for a tryout. Being able to feel physically ready and feel agile and explosive before a tryout can build confidence. Adding this drill to your preparation for a tryout to get your heart rate going and give you a good workout to not only physically be ready for the day but then technically be ready as well by getting your necessary reps needed with your dives.
4 - Pass Against Wall - Smother (scoop)
The goalkeeper position is more than what we can do with our hands. Leading up to a tryout we want to be as sharp as possible with our feet and passing the ball. This allows touches on the ball to allow you to pass the ball firmly onto the wall while also working on your handling and scooping the ball cleanly.
“The reason we provide these drills for you is so that you go into the tryout feeling as prepared as you possibly can. So, when entering the tryout, you know that you have done your absolute best to prepare yourself for the moment. Once that moment comes (the tryout) remember to have fun! The hope is that you love this sport and position so much, that sometimes that is all you need to really show. When you love doing something and you are having fun, you will showcase your best self and your best skill.” – Cassie Miller
Chapter 4 – How to Stand out at Soccer Tryouts
The absolute best way to stand out at any soccer tryouts is by giving your best effort and working hard. But there are a few other things you can do to help you stand out amongst the other players.
The simple act of arriving early (and staying late) is a great way to prepare your mind and let the coaches know you are serious.
Always arrive 10-15 minutes early. Spend that time getting to know the other players, warming up with the ball, and meeting the coaches. Start your warm-up process, do not expect there to be a long warm-up session. The coaches may expect you to be warmed up on your own.
Use this opportunity as a time to shine. Work hard. Get in front of the coaching staff and show them that you are focused and dedicated to learning from them. Show them that you deserve to be there. This is the moment to give it everything you got. Don’t hold back!
Use your voice on the field and make sure you are using positive and encouraging words to your teammates. Volunteer to play in positions you don’t normally play in. If you are running a drill and no one wants to be keeper, speak up. Show that you are willing to work hard for the best of the team.
Coaches tell players all the time to talk more on the field. But also letting your teammates know what they are doing well and encouraging them is something coaches look for. Let a teammate know when they made a good pass or nice shot.
Help them find their placement on the field. If your position is responsible for keeping a shape, tell your teammates when they need to move back or up. Using your voice on the field can help you stay on the roster as many teams struggle to find a vocal leader.
If you are on the bench, yell words of encouragement to your teammates. If a teammate makes an error, help them shake it off. Let your team know you are there for them on the sidelines.
Focus on your Strengths
You probably know that you will not be amazing at all the skills and techniques. To counter that, in tryouts, show your current strengths. You can always work on the other areas later in training and practices.
Find out what you are good at and show that skill as much as possible. Do you have an incredible long ball? Take every opportunity to show that to the coaches. That doesn’t mean kicking the ball down the field as hard as possible every time you touch it. But you do want to make sure they notice your foot.
Have you heard the term “coachable” before? This means that you can take direction from your coach and implement that direction, with a good attitude. Coaches will give you details on how to tweak how you are playing during tryouts. Use what they tell you and implement it.
If the coach says to pass forward more and less backward, make a solid effort to implement that direction. The direction can be as easy as changing your positioning. The coach will look to see if you made the adjustments they requested. When you implement those changes, they will know that you listen and adapt to instruction well.
Chapter 5 – What Coaches Look for in Tryouts
When you are preparing for tryouts, it is helpful to also have an idea of what coaches look for. Coaches want agile and technical players that can play at a high level. These skills include footwork, game IQ, shooting, passing, and dribbling. They are also looking to see how you handle yourself under pressure in real-game situations.
Most tryouts will start with simple soccer exercises. This is so a coach can see your skill level and then monitor that level in a game. If you struggle with the footwork exercises but are a creative game player who scores goals or creates goal-scoring opportunities, that will matter more to the coach than the drills.
A few characteristics coaches look for are:
Being A Leader
Can you lead your team to win? Do you help encourage your teammates? Are you the first to tell players “good game” even if it is a loss? How well are you communicating on and off the field?
Volunteer to go first in drills and let coaches know you are not afraid of making mistakes. Implement changes the second time and be humble.
Positivity After Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and coaches know this. But it is not okay to get angry or pout if you make an error. Don’t throw your hands in the air and huff and puff and definitely don’t blame a teammate for a bad pass.
Coaches are looking to see how you react in all situations, especially when you make a mistake.
We touched on this earlier. Coaches want to see that you are confident in your playing level. This also relates to making mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try a new drill and make a mistake. Recover and move on.
If you are great at long passes, show it! If you are an amazing dribbler, show it!
Be a Hard Worker
We mentioned several times in this article that hard work is expected at tryouts. Coaches want to know that you will work hard for the team. By showing up to tryouts it tells the coaches you are ready to work on your skills.
Even if you are not sure if anybody is watching, put in 100%. Try not to be last in all the running drills or sprints. Hussle to the side when the coach calls you over. Put your water down and run back to position when the water break is over. Go out and give it all you got.
Learn More With Blayze!
Blayze professional coaches know what it is like to work hard to achieve their dreams. They help youth athletes identify areas of improvement and develop a realistic plan on how to accomplish goals. Our athletes are learning more than skill development. They are learning life lessons of perseverance, overcoming hurdles, and the responsibility of managing their success.
Blayze coaches are current professional athletes. They know what the best in the world do because they are the best in the world.
Through training or game film analysis, our coaches can hone your gameplay skills. They customize coaching that drives performance where you need it most, in games.
With weekly custom training plans, Blayze coaches give you the individual drills you need to improve the skills you’re working on. These are drills that the pro players do themselves in and out of the season.
Through chat messages + live calls, your coach is there to support you through every moment.
Want to make the JV team but have no clue where to start? Your Blayze coach is there ready to help you set your mini goals that lead up to your main goal and hold you accountable.
Want to get a college scholarship? Your coach can help you with your highlight tape + give you everything you need.
All of this is available through our Blayze+ program. Sign up and select your dedicated private pro coach at Blayze and try it for one month for just $29!