Soccer tryouts give you a chance to shine and show that you’ve got game. Preparation can take the pressure off and allow you to go in with the right mindset. Coaches look for a mix of energy, skills and attitude at the high school level, and you can take steps to give yourself the best opportunity to make the team.
Mark Your Calendar
Tryout dates vary, but typically they commence at the beginning or middle of August. You want to arrive as fit as possible. Be prepared to take the Cooper test, which measures how far you can run in 12 minutes, and to sprint distances as directed by the coach, either the 40-yard dash or shuttles from the goal line to the 10-yard line and back, the 20-yard line and back, the 30-yard line and back all the way to the 100-yard line and back. Work backward on your calendar from August, and train to increase your running speed and endurance, beginning in June or earlier. On your own or with a personal trainer, work on interval training, combining alternating jogging and sprints, to prepare.
What to Expect
You’ll be set up with a group of fellow hopefuls in games that may be 1v1, 4v4 or 9v9 to see how you handle the ball. Prepare by playing small-sided games with your friends or at a pickup venue; you may be able to find an impromptu weekend or weeknight game on a university or city park athletic field, for example. Anticipate drills testing your ability to receive the ball aerially and head it, so take a ball and a friend or two to a park with a soccer net to work on heading the ball into score, ideally against a defender. When your friends aren’t available, juggle the ball on your own to improve your foot skills.
Give 100 Percent
Arrive well rested, with a good night’s sleep the night before. Talk to the coach ahead of time about what to expect. Give 100 percent on each drill and show your work ethic. Coaches can teach skills but they can’t coach effort; a display of good effort will catch their eyes. Work well with your teammates. Coaches tend to look for a positive attitude and teamwork as much or more than skills or athleticism. Bring your most cheerful, cooperative, team-oriented self to the tryout.
And Have Fun
Play in a position at which you are comfortable, recommends Michael Duggan, director of coaching with the Carlsbad Lightning soccer club in California. His colleague, Paul Holohan, who directs the club’s elite boys program, adds, “Don’t be nervous. Just go out and do the best you can. Try to play the position you know best. Go play and enjoy it.” Work hard to score, to provide assists and to defend; the coach at your tryout will be putting a checkmark by your name indicating success at these tasks. Share the ball.