Tryouts, just hearing that word, and your hands may start sweating, your heart racing and probably some other things that happen when you feel nervous or uneasy about something. Try-out are also something you will experience multiple times if you choose to be a competitive athlete, and they are some tools you can use and skills you can practice so that they become a good experience and not a bad one. This is coming from a coach, one of those people who are evaluating players just like you on the "other side" of the tryout. Hope some of these insights will help you prepare and then feel good about yourself after you give your best effort, and possibly use some of these little tricks as we draw closer to try-out season for comp soccer in the next few weeks.
Preparation is key. One of my favorite phrases is, "if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" Putting some good purposeful preparation will help ease your anxiety and feel ready to go! Since we are talking soccer here, make sure all angles of the tryout are considered. Obviously be prepared to touch the ball and spend some time leading up to the tryout getting comfortable with that ball (soccer players should always be doing this!!) This also includes the fitness element. Remember, its not up to anyone else but you to ensure you are fit and ready to play.. Of course coaches can help and game fitness is best but if that is not possible, get out and do some fitness on your own, soccer specific is best. Running, changing direction, sprinting, core work and flexibility are good places to start, this should be done daily, as well as touching a ball.
The night or day before get your gear prepared, proper footwear, training gear, shin guards, sounds silly but you would be surprised how many times players have not showed up with proper footwear, that is not a good start to a tryout to have to tell coaches you don't have cleats, or shin guards. Double and triple check your bags, make sure you are prepared. Take some time the day or two before to plan meals, wake up time, transportation to and from the tryout with your parents or whoever is helping you prepare (if its just you, that is OK too!) These are all the controllables you can influence!! Taking care of all the preparation key to how you feel leading up to and when when you arrive There are a few other things that I think can help with how you feel playing and can help you have the correct mentality you need during a tryout, which after all is most important- to be able to perform your best. Here are a few tricks that I have learned.
#1 Confidence is HUGE! How can you show up feeling confident? Especially if you didn't play as well as you wanted in your last game, or you can't stop thinking about some mistakes you made or think you will make. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS!! get the negative out of there. Have a trusted friend, or parent help you remember things you have done well, success you have had, amazing goals you have scored, or stopped. Basically just remembering your strengths, the key here is you need to know what those are, part of preparing may be to have some self reflection and take some time thinking about what you feel your strengths are and what you an offer as a player to a coach that may be different than what anyone else can do. You have them, we all do (we all have weaknesses too) But give yourself a dose of confidence before a tryout by remembering your strengths!
#2 Play to your strengths. Be assertive and be sure you play the position where you feel your strengths will show the most. Make sure those evaluating you see you at your best position and you get to show them your best stuff. For example, if you have a great left foot , play on the left side so you can show during tryouts you can get the ball across with your left foot. If you are great at winning balls out of the air, when the opportunity comes be assertive and do your thing!!
#3 Wear something bright that stands out. No need to be obnoxious here but it is helpful to have bright shorts or socks that help you stand out. Some coaches may not think this is important but I cant tell you how many times as coaches when we are talking about player at breaks and don't know names or numbers yet, will say, the one in the orange socks or some other distinguishing feature like that.
#4 A firm handshake and eye contact!!
As a coach I am always impressed with young people that politely and at a good time (before or after a session, tryout) will come and introduce themselves, make eye contact and reach out a hand to offer a firm handshake. Once you are familiar with the coach, a nice "thank you" is also appreciated and noticed. I would suggest sometime before the tryout starts to make an effort to go introduce yourself.
So in a nutshell, preparation is key! Before the tryout starts, arrive early enough to go introduce yourself (not with your parents :) make eye contact, shake firmly :) Then get out there play confident, be assertive and play to your strengths. A nice thank you, then you can get in the car, exhale and know you did your best!! YOU GOT THIS!!