One of the most frequent questions our community members ask is, how can I get a professional or semi-professional football trial?
Although there is no definitive answer to this, we’ve attended enough trials over the years to have a good idea of some of the best practices to increase your chances of making it.
Below you will find a huge list of trial resources, from trial nutrition, to improving your chances of getting a trial.
So let’s get into this…
What is a football trial?
We’ll start with the basics and explain what a football trial is and why professional clubs use them.
An academy football trial allows young players to get a taste of the academy environment. Players can experience the surroundings at a potential club before committing to them or being offered a period of registration. The trial also allows the club to get a good look at the player and all aspects of his/her game over a desired period.
Football trial and talent days are becoming alot more rare, as professional clubs tend to opt for a larger scouting network for talent identification.
This is less risky for the clubs, as these scouts have great relationship with local grassroots coaches and schools so are able to build a database of players with potential.
This is why you will no longer see top clubs holding football open trials. Leading to a rise in the amount of football trial agencies opening around the globe. These companies vet through potential players and recommend players of talent to their partnering clubs. However there is a grey area around some of these agencies as there has been reports of companies falsely advertising that they have official links with professional clubs, so if you are looking to go down this route proceed with caution.
Selected for trial…what next?
Once you have been selected for a football academy trial, the recruiter will approach your parents to invite you to attend.
The majority of professional trials take place over a 6 week period, in which the player will attend training and play in matches. During this 6 week period the coaches will assess the player on the four main areas of football development. Looking into the technical, tactical, physical and social aspects of your game and personality.
If you are successful during this period the club could either offer you an annual registration or extend your trial for up to 18 weeks.
If you are unsuccessful the club may invite you to join the development center to help bridge the gap from youth football to academy football.
They may also allow you to return to your youth football club where a scout may still watch your games.
The trial process is different for most semi-professional football teams. Players are often invited to train and play in matches being assessed over a shorter period of time by the manager and coaching staff.
Trials for released players
Football Academy Exit Trials – Under 16 TrialsIf you are currently at an academy, but your club are not offering you a scholarship or extended schoolboy registration, fear not as there are still options available to continue to chase your dream.Each year during the second half of the season various organisations hold assessment days known as Exit Trials.Football scouts and sporting colleges/university attend these trials to assess the talent available and offer the chance to join a new club or move into higher education.Check out our guide to exit trials for more details.
League Football Education Assessment Trials – Under 19If you are an academy apprentice with no offer of a further period of registration after completing two years, then a League Football Education assessment trial may be for you.This option provides a platform for released academy players or 1st year professionals to trial in front of professional and non-league club scouts and recruiters.Taking place throughout April and May at four select locations around the UK. This is a very prestigious opportunity, which attracts recruiters from both the UK and America.For further details and to check if you’re eligible to take part in an LFE trial click here.
How to prepare for a football trial
The moment you are invited to a professional football trial, is when the real work begins. You will need to step up your training intensity to make sure that you are in peak condition come trial time.
If you’re not already doing so we suggest training on certain aspects every single day to ensure your game is well rounded in all areas. No matter how good you think you are, there is always room for improvement.
You should create a personal training and development schedule to work towards your trial that covers the main areas that the academies look for:
- Technically prepare – Working individually on the basics skills, such as dribbling, passing, shooting, close control and ball manipulation.
- Tactically prepare – One of the best ways to improve your tactical awareness is by watching the professionals. Try to watch games from all over the world, concentrating on players in your position. See how hard they work when not in possession, how they communicate with team mates and how efficient they are with the ball. This will give you an understanding of awareness, positioning with/without the ball and vision.
- Mentally prepare – Try to visualise the trial game in your head. Imagine yourself dribbling past a defended, scoring a goal or saving a penalty. Relax your mind and keep focused. Try to surround yourself and regularly talk to positive people, who can encourage you and keep your mind clear of negativity. Some of the main personality traits the club will look for are commitment, bravery, good team player, winning mentality, hunger to learn and players who don’t drop their head in negative situations.
- Physically prepare – This is the time to put in work on your physical fitness. Hit the gym and get the sprints in. You need to improve your flexibility, speed, cardiovascular endurance, strength and acceleration to give you the edge over your competition on the day. Special consideration should be given to foot speed, straight line speed and speed endurance.
Check out our ultimate guide to football trial preparation to ensure your are ready for your trial.
What to eat before a trial?
Many players fail to take their pre trial nutrition seriously and end up faltering toward the end of the assessment day.
The standards at football trials are so high, that you should use every tactic available to improve their chance of success, and fueling correctly is very important.
We have a dedicated article which explains exactly what you should consume in the build up to your big day. Check out our guide to football trial nutrition and give yourself the energy boost you need to succeed.
How To Pass A football Trial?
Football Trial FAQ’s
You need to remember that you are on trial to get a chance of signing a registration or professional contract. Your main aim should be to impress the recruiters. By all means be a team player and conduct yourself professionally on the pitch. But you need to be focused on the task at hand and driven to succeed at your trial.
Once you have successfully past the trial, the chance at making friends and team mates will come. But you definitely are not there yet, so stick the plan and go out and impress.
The honest answer is that getting a trial for a pro club is very difficult. It is not always about your talent, in most cases, an element of luck and timing comes into it.
However, here are some suggestions to improve your chances:
- Create a football CV and send to clubs
- Attend professional club soccer schools
- Make sure you are playing at the highest level in your local leagues (and that you get a game every week). There is no point joining the best team and sitting on the bench.
- Document your achievements and live action on your own YouTube channel.
- Contact a football agent
All the above options are feasible, however, professional clubs put a huge amount of budget into scouting. This enables them to unearth the best talent from all over, so we suggest concentrating on training hard and enjoying your football, and let the scouts come to you.
The majority of professional/ academy football trials are invite only. A player must already be registered for a local youth team and playing regular football before being considered for a trial.
If you are playing regularly you can approach a club with your football CV and fixture list to request a scout to view your game. Players over the age of 17 will be too old for the academy and should approach the first team for a trial.
There are private companies that hold assessment days where in which a host of professional scouts are in attendance. However, you need to assess your own ability before investing money to attend one of these days.
In most cases you should never pay for a scout or trial as professional clubs will never charge a player to attend a trial. That said, organisations such as the Professional Football Scouts Association, hold trial days attended by the scouts from around the world.
If you feel you’re getting overlooked by scouts or want to make yourself known to professional clubs, you can always reach out and ask for a trial.
This approach is speculative and must be performed in the correct way. We have provided a step by step approach in our How To Get Scouted Course.
Academy football starts at the age of 9 years old; however young talent can attend training days or development centres.