Standing Out at a Soccer Tryout.

This season we’ve seen several Queen City Mutiny DA players take to the road to train with MLS clubs. Some of our U14 DA players travelled to Philadelphia Union Youth Development and to Atlanta United’s Academy. Those opportunities, and the showcases we’ve been hosting in Charlotte, have prompted these suggestions for how to stand out in a training or tryout situation.

To begin, let’s start with great advice from our own Coach Marc Schwenk: “Believe in yourself and your abilities. You are there for a reason, so don’t be shy.”

At the same time, don’t overdo it. If you try to stand out by hogging the ball, flattening the other players, or doing bicycle kicks in front of the net, you’re probably trying too hard. Even if you succeed in wowing the coaches, you aren’t going to make a great impression on your future teammates.

Both coaches and fellow players want to see that you can contribute to the team. Make others look good and showcase your talents. As Marc put it, “play simple, play your own game. Most likely you were invited to train with this team for a reason. Show your style of play, if you are there because of your passing abilities don’t think the coach wants to see you dribble three players every time you touch the ball.” 

Make a Lasting Impression 

It’s simple really, which of these do you want potential coaches to think:

•       “This kid’s a show-off” or “That kid thinks quickly on his feet.”

•       “He’s only thinking about himself on the field” or “This player is an excellent dribbler.”

•       “He gets winded quickly” or “He’s quick.”

•       “She’ll shoot from anywhere in the 18-yard box” or “She takes smart shots.”

•       “He doesn’t look up from the ball” or “He really sees the game and moves the ball around well.”

•       “Well, at least the player’s willing to take risks and try new techniques” or “That player is confident in his role on the team.”

We’re hoping you’ll have chosen the second in each of those options!

Given the opportunity, fight to play the position where you play best. Of course, if the coach tells you to play somewhere on the field, do it without argument. However, if you’re put into small groups and everyone sets themselves up in a position, go for your preferred role. If you don’t get a chance to play that role right away, ask someone to switch with you when there is a break in play or substitutions are made.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to put your best foot forward. If the coaches stick you “temporarily” in a role that you’re not familiar with or as confident in, you might even politely ask (eventually) to try somewhere else. One soccer guide suggests something along the lines of, “could you put me as (your ideal position) or (your second best position)? I’d like to show you I can contribute more at that position.”

Personality Matters

Try also to impress coaches with your personality. Don’t go crazy with the questions, and try to avoid being a suck up. But being friendly and helpful can help you make an overall positive impression.  

Speaking of positive, it also helps to offer encouraging feedback to teammates. Don’t be that player who is complaining about everyone else and telling them they suck. Work hard, play well, but also show respect for the other players. Coaches want to see you’ll be a good addition to their team. Unless you’re the second coming of Pele, the coaches are unlikely to want to deal with adding a jerk to their roster.

Try to be social with the other players on the team. This doesn’t mean be distracting and try to make all new friends in your 90 minutes. But some people tend to clam up when they’re nervous. Others get really chatty. Know this about yourself and be aware of whether you’re coming across as disruptive or too much of a lone wolf. If you’re not the most outgoing individual, don’t worry. Stay true to you and let your talent do the talking for you.

Ultimately, Marc said, ”be yourself, don’t try to fake who you are or impress by doing something that isn’t you. Not every coach will like how you play and that’s okay.”

After all, this is your soccer career, and you’re unlikely to be happy if your career is all about how others want you to be or what you think they want you to be. 

At QCM, we’re excited to see our players enjoy the relationships we’re building with professional MLS entities. After all, a strong development program needs to provide its players with the experiences that can guide them on their unique future pathways.

chris williams