How to Impress at a Football Trial

So now you are prepared for your football trial. Next you need to understand what happens at a football trial and how you maximise your chance of succeeding on the day or during the trial period?

The main issues during this stage are nerves, the fear of not performing and over thinking everything you do on the pitch or at training.

The thing you need to remember is that a football trial is as much a test of your mental strength as it is your physical.

Football trials allow scouts to assess how you react in pressure situations and how you cope with a new environment or stepping up a level in quality.

So take a few deep breath and show them you are as good as they already believe you are.


The recruiters are not trying to prove you aren’t good enough; they are on your side and hoping they have unearthed a future star.

Below are some of our top football trial tips to help you impress the scouts at your trial.

Football Trial Tip 1: Make Yourself Available in Game and Training Situations

It’s important that you don’t shy away from the ball. You want to get involved in the play as much as possible. Find space to receive the ball and always communicate when you are available.

Even if you don’t receive the ball, the football academy recruiters will notice your efforts.

Help out with defensive and attacking duties, by either finding space or tracking back where necessary. Stay alert to what’s happening all over the pitch and your own contribution to the game.

Football Trial Tip 2: Be Efficient with the Ball

During your football trial, you’ll soon notice that the pace of academy football may be quicker than what you’re use to. Therefore you won’t have as much time and will have to play with more speed.

So, it is important to keep things simple and show you can do the basics well. Concentrate on quick sharp passing, getting the ball under control and opening up the play with good technique.

Don’t overdo it with excessive dribbling and showboating!

A little skill is good, but recruiters want to see an end product which benefits the team.

By all means, take a player on if you’re in an attacking position and there are no better options. But if you lose the ball work hard to track back and put the opposition under pressure.

Check out these football trials tips from Chelsea legend Gus Poyet:


Football Trial Tip 3: Be an Impact Player

Impact the game!

Whether you’re a goalkeeper or striker, you need to make sure your contribution to the trial process is impactful.

Alongside doing the basics, you need to make sure you leave something of quality in the recruiter’s mind that makes them want to sign you.

As a striker, the best thing you can do is score a goal, as a defender put in a strong fair tackle, or a winger put a great cross in that shows your delivery quality.

Show the recruiters you have what it takes to influence a game.

Communication is also an important attribute that football scouts like to see. If you appear to be orchestrating and leading the team this will go in your favour as this is a skill that every team requires.

Football Trial Tip 4: Keep a Positive Mental Attitude

Although you may be competing against other trialists, you need to show you can have a positive effect on your teammates.This is done by maintaining a positive attitude. You must support your teammates with encouragement and a selfless work rate on the pitch.It is also important to show a respectful attitude towards the officials and the management team, as this highlights a lot about your character.

Football Trial Tip 5: Leave Everything on the Field

We often hear the same post-trial statements from unsuccessful players.  Comments like:
  • They regret they didn’t perform to their best
  • Nerves got the better of them
  • They weren’t prepared for the tactical change
Whether your football trial is a live assessment day, exit trial or 6 week trial period you need to make sure you feel there is nothing else you could’ve done.Concentrate on your own game and don’t let the occasion get the better of you.Remember they’ve already seen the quality in you; that’s why they invited you to trial. So give it your all and make it impossible for them to say no.PlayerScout TIP: Sprint when possible. Sprinting shows urgency, desire and athleticism (which is often an attribute football scout’s look for). Also sprinting a lot can actually make you look quicker if you are a slow player.

Football Trial Tip 6: Believe in Your Abilities

You were not invited to trial by chance. You were chosen above thousands of hopefuls for your opportunity to trial.Somewhere an influential football expert has seen a special talent in your ability and personality.Professional football clubs don’t have time to waste and they have chosen to spend their valuable time watching you.So remember….You already have what they are looking for, you just have to show them on the day

Footall Trial Tip 7: You Are Special

Every player (including you) is individual and has a certain set of skills they can perform better than other players. To be successful you need to show how well you have trained and nurtured these specific skills to reach this level.Few football enthusiasts get the chance to trial or train at academy level; take that as affirmation you are already a cut above the rest.

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Football Trial Tip 8: Make Sure Your Communicate

We breifly touched on this above, but it is so important we had to repeat it.Recruiters love a player who is always communicating. Whether it’s instructing or encourage your teammates, being vocal indicates you are confident, engaged and have an understanding of the game.But that’s not all:Regular communication draws the recruiters attention to you even when you do not have the ball. This can go along way to making yourself unforgettable in the eyes of the scouts.PlayerScout TIP: Learn the names of every player on your team and use it as you direct your instructions in an encouraging manner. This shows great leadership qualities and attentiveness.

Football Trial Tip 9: Make Sure You Appear Coachable

Recruiters are not only assessing your talent. They are also assessing if they can work with you. Therefore, you need to show you are eager to learn and take on board the coaches advice.Remember to always…
  • Ask questions when you are unsure (but only when appropriate)
  • Listen and concentrate to the coaches words
  • Put the coaches advice into practice on the pitch
  • Try to make eye contact with the coach when they are speaking
PlayerScout Tip: Make a mental note of any specific instructions the coach has given, and be sure to attempt them (at the right time) during your trial.

Football Trial Tip 10: Team up with the Best

During the trial process, you may be asked to work in small teams to practice certain drills. This is when you need to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself with the best players.Selecting to work with the most talented players can help you in the following ways:
  • Being around better players can raise your game
  • If the recruiters already have an eye on a talented player, then their focus may be geared towards them during the group session. Grouping with this talented player will ensure you get the coaches attention as well.
  • Working with more talented players can show recruiters that you’re equipped to play with a higher standard of player (e.g. players in the clubs academy)
  • Better players can control and pass the ball more effectively than less skilled players. This will allow your group to create a more attractive style of football during your sessions (for examples, one-two’s and give and goes).

Football Trial Tip 11: Always Fail Forward

The term ‘fail forward’ essentially means learning from your mistakes.And believe us… you will make many mistakes throughout the trial process.Don’t worry though, mistakes are great!Recruiters want to see how you react after making a mistake. Does your head drop? Do you hide? If you lose the ball do you work hard for the team to rectify your mistake?PlayerScout TIP: If you mess up in a drill, sprint back to the start and be ready to go again. DON’T apologise, just get set and ready to perform better next time.And always learn from any mistakes made, try to assess why they happened and be prepared (if) that situation happens again.For any goalkeepers wondered how to ace an academy trial, here’s Joe Harts advice:

Football Trial Tip 12: Fake It till Your Make It

Well maybe not fake it, but definitely ACT the part.By this we mean, act like a professional, from the minute you arrive at your trial consider:
  • Your body language – stand tall and proud, with your shoulders back and chin up.
  • The kit your wearing – is your kit football specific, safe and suitable for the conditions
  • Your manners – be polite and respectful
  • Your energy levels – Show you have the energy to be a professional athlete
  • Make eye contact
All of these signals should say ‘I’m here and I’m ready to be a professional footballer’.Grassroots football is fun and geared towards engagement. However professional football is serious and recruiters want players who are 100% dedicated to making it.That said if you relax you’ll be able to perform to your best.Which leads us onto our next tip:

Football Trial Tip 13: Make Sure You Smile and Have Fun

Remember why you started playing football in the first place… because it was fun.Football is not life or death, it is a game and players express their talents more when they enjoy themselves.So try to enjoy every minute of your trial experience.Even if you don’t make it through this time, you will gain a huge amount of ‘money can’t buy’ knowledge about the trial process. This will put you in a great position for the next one.One last thing: Knowing what goes through a scouts head can really help.

What Are Scouts Looking For?

Understanding what scouts look for in a player can also help you during your trial.

This will give you the ammunition and confidence to stay on course throughout the entire trial process. We cover this in more depth in our get scouted section. However, the main four areas are:

  • Football Skills and technique
  • Tactical Awareness
  • Physique
  • Temperament

Don’t panic though…

Recruiters are not expecting you to be an expert in all four areas, this is more the guidelines on what they may be looking for during the trial.

Our website provides readers with content for informational and educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice from qualified healthcare providers. You must always consult a qualified healthcare professional when undertaking fitness, training or nutiritonal programmes.

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