If you’re here, you may be nearing soccer tryouts or an ID camp. You really want to make the team and rightfully so!
I understand that soccer tryouts can be a nerve-racking experience for young players. However, understanding what coaches look for during tryouts can help you prepare and showcase your skills.
At the end of the day, coaches want players with a good combination of technical and physical abilities, a growth mindset, a high game IQ, and a love for the game. It’s pretty much that simple. But, of course, there’s more to it in each of these categories.
In this article, we’ll break down each of the above so you are 100% prepared for your tryout!
Understanding the Game
At soccer tryouts, coaches look for players who understand the game well. This means being able to read the game and make the right decisions on the field. Understanding the game involves both tactical awareness and technical skills.
Depending on the level you are at, coaches don’t want to introduce concepts and/or skills that you should know at your age. This should be learned in the offseason if you feel like you are behind other players in your age group.
Tactical awareness is about understanding the game’s strategy and making decisions based on that understanding. Coaches want players who can anticipate the game’s flow and adjust their position and movement accordingly. Players with good tactical awareness can read the game and make the right decisions on the field.
To demonstrate tactical awareness, you should:
- Understand your position and your role on the field
- Be aware of your teammates’ positions and movements
- Anticipate the opposition’s moves and adjust your position accordingly
- Make quick and effective decisions on the field
Technical skills are the foundation of soccer. Players need to have a good grasp of the basic techniques to play the game. The list is not exhaustive, but the techniques coaches look for are as follows:
- Use of the first touch
- Ability to run with the ball and make quick decisions
- 1v1 attacking and defending
- Precise passing into space
Players with good technical skills can control the ball, pass accurately, and shoot effectively. They can also defend well and tackle effectively.
To demonstrate technical skills, players should:
- Control the ball with different parts of their body
- Pass accurately and with different techniques
- Dribble effectively and at different paces
- Shoot with accuracy and power
- Defend well and make strong tackles
Being in tip-top shape for your tryout tells the coach you care. It tells them that you put in the work prior to make yourself quicker, stronger, and more lean.
Coaches look for players who are in good physical shape and can keep up with the demands of the game. Here are some key areas that coaches consider when evaluating a player’s physical fitness:
Coaches look for players who can run for extended periods without getting tired. They also want players who can recover quickly after a sprint. This shows them you can quickly transition from offense to defense if the team needs you to do so.
Strength and Power
Players need to be able to hold off defenders, win tackles, and jump for headers. Coaches look for players who have good upper and lower body strength. This is not the end all in soccer but it will certainly help you to stand out.
Speed and Agility
Coaches look for players who can accelerate quickly, change direction rapidly, and maintain their balance while running at high speeds.
I hate to say it but body composition does matter. Coaches look for players who have a healthy body weight and a low body fat percentage. Players who are overweight or have a high body fat percentage may struggle to keep up with the demands of the game. This is especially true when you start transitioning to 11v11.
Attitude and Coachability
This is a biggie! As a coach, a player’s attitude and coachability were very important to me. A player’s attitude is his or her approach to the game, while coachability is the willingness to learn and take instruction from the coach. This is what makes players and teams better over the course of the soccer season.
Teamwork is an essential aspect of soccer. Coaches look for players who are willing to work together with their teammates to achieve a common goal.
A player who is selfish and only focuses on his or her personal performance can be detrimental to the team’s success. Try to avoid yelling at other players or expect special treatment because you may be ‘the best’.
A player who shows a willingness to work with their teammates and put the team’s success above their own is highly valued by coaches.
Willingness to Learn
Players who show a willingness to learn and take instruction from their coach are highly valued.
Coaches want players who are open to feedback and willing to make changes to their game. A player who is willing to learn and improve is an asset to the team.
Coaches look for players who are not afraid to ask questions and seek clarification on what they need to do to improve.
If a coach says something to you, don’t just stare at them with blank eyes. Nod your head up and down so they know you are acknowledging what they are saying.
Discipline and Respect
Coaches want players who are disciplined and can follow instructions. A player who shows a lack of discipline can disrupt the team’s success.
Players who show respect to their coaches, teammates, and opponents are highly valued. A player who displays disrespectful behavior can harm the team’s reputation and success.
If you are a club player, this will really hurt you in the long run. Coaches talk. They know who the disrupters are and will avoid taking them on any of their teams.
High Soccer IQ
Soccer intelligence is very important as you get older. This means that the player has the ability to make good decisions quickly during games. Players with a high soccer IQ can read the game well, anticipate the moves of their opponents, and make accurate passes to their teammates.
A player with a high soccer IQ is an asset to any team. They can help to control the tempo of the game and make sure that the team is playing to its strengths. They are also able to adjust their playing style to suit the needs of the team.
So, how can players develop a high soccer IQ? One way is to watch professional games and analyze the tactics used by the players. This can help players understand how to move the ball effectively and how to position themselves on the field. You see the game from a bird’s eye, which can be very helpful. Instead of watching everyone, dial in on your position.
Another way to develop a high soccer IQ is to practice with a purpose. Players should focus on improving their decision-making skills during training sessions. They can do this by playing small-sided games where they have to make quick decisions under pressure.
The more you play, the better your IQ will be. So play as much as you can leading up to tryouts!
Potential and Growth
Soccer coaches also look for players who have the potential to grow and develop their skills. While skill and technique are essential, coaches understand that players who have the potential to improve can become valuable assets to their team.
Coaches want players who will learn from their mistakes and not hang their heads. Having a growth mindset that you’ll get better will pay dividends.
When you mix hard work and a willingness to learn the game, great things tend to happen. Maybe not tomorrow but certainly over the course of the season and into next year.
Pure Passion for the Game of Soccer
One of the most important traits that soccer coaches look for in players during tryouts is a pure passion for the game. This is because players who are passionate about soccer tend to be more committed, hardworking, and dedicated to improving their skills.
Passionate players are also more likely to have a positive attitude and be good team players. They are willing to put in the extra effort to help their team succeed and are always looking for ways to improve their own game.
During tryouts, coaches look for signs of passion in players, such as:
- High energy levels: Players who are passionate about soccer tend to have high energy levels and are always eager to get on the field and start playing.
- Willingness to learn: Passionate players are always looking for ways to improve their game and are willing to learn from their coaches and teammates.
- Love for the game: Players who are passionate about soccer truly love the game and are always excited to play, whether it’s during practice, in a game, or in the parking lot.
Soccer coaches look for a variety of skills and attributes when evaluating players during tryouts. While technical ability is certainly important, coaches also place a high value on a player’s attitude, work ethic, and coachability…these are the intangibles.
Additionally, coaches are looking for players who are physically fit and able to play at the pace and intensity required at the competitive level.
During tryouts, you should focus on demonstrating your technical skills, such as passing, dribbling, and shooting, as well as your ability to read the game and make good decisions on the field. You should also be prepared to work hard and show a positive attitude, even when faced with adversity or mistakes. Do these things and you’ll be in great shape.
I hope this helps and good luck at your tryouts! You’ll crush it.