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 is an in-depth review of everything you need to know about the trial process including:
How to prepare for a football trial?
How to perform well at a football trial?
To whet your appetite, here is a great insight into Arsenal FC academy, to show you what you can expect if your academy trial is successful.
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.
What Is Involved at a Football Academy Trial?Football trials differ from club to club, depending on the coaching philosophy and the player’s development phase.
A few professional clubs still hold open trials or talent identification days; but these are more uncommon nowadays due to the increase of scouting networks.
These network works alongside the clubs community football scheme, local schools and grassroots clubs to handpick and track the most talented players.
Most clubs also use a wider network of scouts reporting back to the club, either nationally or internationally depending on budget.
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.
Under 16 Football Trials – Football Academy Exit 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 know 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 19 TrialsIf 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.
- 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 players 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?The key to performing your best is to not let the occasion get the better of you.
Remember you were invited to trial because a professional scout saw qualities in your game and personality that they believe can benefit the team they represent.
However it doesn’t hurt to plan how to be successful at your trial.
Football Trials FAQ’sWe regularly receive questions from our community members about football trials. We have tried to answer the majority of them below.
Feel free to drop any further questions in the comments below.
Will I Be the Only Player on Trial or Is There Going to Be Others in My Situation?Professional clubs are always on the lookout for new talent to join their ranks. So there’s a good chance a few players will also be on trial.This often means that you are competing against the current crop of registered players and any trialists in your position. However this is nothing to be concern with, as academy and professional football is extremely competitive, so you should expect this kind of pressure.
Is It a Good Idea to Make Friends with the Other Trialists?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.
How to Get Football Trials for Professional Clubs?
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.
Can I Just Turn up for an Academy Trial?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.
Can You Pay for Football Trials?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.
Can You Ask for Football Trials?
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 guide to approaching clubs in our football CV ebook.
What Age Does Can a Player Trial for an Academy?
Academy football starts at the age of 9 years old; however young talent can attend training days or development centres.