Preparing for Youth Soccer Tryouts

For many players, coaches and parents, the soccer tryout is an event which is highly dreaded and one that would be readily avoided if the option to do so was presented. It is that time of the year that might as well come with a public service announcement discouraging players from the sport. Competence is questioned, and little details are scrutinized. Coaches who have the task of seeing hundreds of players could hastily judge a player as not being good enough, thereby landing a decisive death blow to a potentially eventful soccer career. While there is no perfect way to prepare for soccer tryouts, parents and players can follow a process to get the best out of it. At the heart of most tryouts is an assessment of character, yet working dutifully on ability does make a difference. In the same manner in which one would handle an interview for a job in which there is great competition and personal interest, making the best of soccer tryouts requires work.

Fitness and Health

To perform to one’s best ability in soccer, being in the right physical shape is necessary. Eating healthily, sufficient hydration, sleeping adequately and exercising are good components that make the body able to bear the demands of soccer. From about six to four weeks before the tryouts begin, parents should guide the players on maintaining a flexible but disciplined regime. It is important to start early to build both physical and mental momentum so that when the tryouts arrive, rather than having a feeling of trepidation or anxiety, the player will look forward to it with much confidence gained through sufficient preparation.

Research the Team

A tryout is typically done to join a team in which a player isn’t currently attached but one which has some quality standard of attraction to the player. Finding out exactly what they want in a new recruit is helpful in knowing what particular skills to practice. How does the team play? Teams who play with short passes are somewhat different from those who prefer the long ball approach. What you want to do is have a general sense of what their objectives are: whether to win games at whatever cost or to play beautifully while developing players. Also, teams have different formats for tryouts; where some prefer assessment on specific drills, some are based on small games.

What Do Coaches Want?

In addition to the knowledge of team requirements, knowing how a particular coach plays is especially useful. What are his preferences on tackling? Does he have a strict outline or are players allowed to express themselves? Part of handling tryouts well is anticipation and the avoidance of disappointment which can arise due to unmet expectations. It means that knowing ahead of time what a coach wants is preferable to assuming that he will be blown away when a player turns up with his own ideas. Where it is possible and allowed, contact the coach and ask to be invited to practice to get a first-hand view of what the player needs to do in order to get his attention.

Practicing 1v1 and Shooting

Yes, teams and coaches differ but none of them despise the ability to handle 1v1 situations. In fact, this is one of the core parts of the assessments during tryouts, for players who want to play in any outfield position be it in defense or attack. For an attacking player, being able to beat defenders in 1v1 situations is a great asset and a player preparing for tryouts cannot go wrong with perfecting their ability. To do so, one could enlist a friend or sibling to assist them with practice. Good 1v1 practice will increase a player’s confidence going into the tryouts because when you have dribbled past someone in training a number of times, you feel capable of doing many other things. Of course shooting is an integral part of soccer, including even for goalkeepers.

When It Goes Wrong

Despite all the work a player puts in, performance at the tryout may not be perfectly executed. After practicing passes for a long time, he may miss a pass or fail to make a successful tackle. Keeping one’s nerve and maintaining focus, as opposed to letting one’s head down and giving up, is where the test of character comes in. Coaches will want to see how a player handles their mistakes, so there should be no tantrums when something does not seem to work. Along with keeping one’s control, communicating with those around the pitch during the tryouts comes in handy as well.


While the soccer tryout may not the most fun or the most anticipated activity of the player’s soccer experience, it is a non-negotiable in order to play. The ability to have an open mind and doing the required groundwork is key in the successful navigation of this all important event which will either solidify one’s entry to soccer or indicate a lack of suitability for it.


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