Tryouts- Owning it from the Mental Side

Last week we learned about controlling your controllables and this is a great place to start when it comes to try outs. Recognize early, before you even step foot onto the field for tryouts, there will be things out of your control. Athletes who struggle to showcase their abilities at tryouts are usually focused on these three things.

  1. The competition (aka other athletes competing)

  2. Impressing the coaching staff

  3. Focused on making the team

I want to briefly explain why these three things are detrimental to an athletes success at tryouts starting with, focusing on the competition. One of the first things to realize is that everyone trying out is in the same boat as you. Now there maybe some returning players who are more confident in their spot on the team but in the end, everyone there is to make the team. Take solace in the fact that you are not the only one there that is feeling nervous, excited, or anxious. I guarantee you are not alone.

If you are worried about the coaching staff and what they are thinking of you rather than your soccer abilities, I promise you that you are not giving your full attention to the task at hand. During a tryout coaches are watching 25+ kids at time. While you will remember every mistake you make, the coaches will not. However, all coaches know that mistakes happen in soccer. Coaches want to see what you do after the mistake. That’s how they determine the type of player you are and if they want you on their team. As a coach, it’s harder to teach someone work ethic than it is to correct a shot. If you lose the ball, go win it back. If you miss a shot, take another one.

For the last one, why would being focused on making the team a bad thing? Simply put, you’re focusing on the outcome and not the process. If you want to make the team, you need to showcase to the coach what talents you possess. Showcase your strengths and don’t try to be a player you aren’t. The game doesn’t lie. If you are a good player, the coach will want you. If you are doing the right things, making good passes, going hard into tackles, taking strong shots then there is no need to focus on the outcome because your efforts will determine your place.

On the flip side, what type of things should athletes be doing mentally at tryouts to improve their performance? These three things can make huge improvements.

  1. Stay Calm

  2. Stay Focused

  3. Trust the process

Staying calm is easier said than done I know. If you are having difficulties staying calm take some time to focus on your breathing. Long, slow inhale through your nose, pause, and then a long slow exhale. This forces oxygen into our body and brain allowing the body to slow the heart rate and think more clearly. Another good way to help calm the body is to move around. Use some of that extra energy up by walking or skipping around, swing the arms stretch, give that energy somewhere to go.

Stay focused. This one parallels to all three topics in the first section but you have to remember what you are there to do and that is to showcase your talents. Soccer is a beautiful sport in that a team requires many different talents on the field to be successful. Not everyone can be the goal scorer. Maybe you are the playmaker, or the hustler, or the tenacious defender. Whatever you are, you cannot do YOU if you are thinking about 20 other different things.

Last but not least, you have to remember to trust the process. You’ve put in so much work since last year. Hours spent training on your own and with a team. You’ve grown and improved as a player. Believe in yourself that the work you’ve put in will show. Doubt will show in your play. Growth and self improvement are not a destination. It is ever changing process and you will never feel as if you have “arrived”. With that said be proud of where you are at but never be satisfied enough to stop working.