In a little over month from now, high school tryouts will be underway. For a new player, it’s the moment you have been waiting for all your life! Well, maybe not all your life, but it’s a very BIG day. You may begin to ask yourself questions like, “How many people will be trying out for my position? How will I get noticed? What happen if I don’t make it?” There is one answer to all these questions: Be READY! How you get ready is all up to you, but above all else, be ready.
Part of being mentally ready is understanding YOU ARE AT A TRYOUT. You are there to compete and impress your coach. You must understand that the playing field is even, so it doesn’t matter if you are the leading scorer or start every game for your club team, the only things that matter are what you do during those two weeks of tryouts. Repeat after me: never give up! Again, never give up! There will be a natural desire to want to be perfect at everything you do, but you will make mistakes. You will probably slip during one of the runs and come last, rush at an attacker and get beat, or miss a wide open goal. But do not give up and do not dwell on it. Your coach will most likely rate you on how you recover after your mistakes more than your actual mistakes themselves. Lastly, do not let other players get to you. Every player is there to gain an edge. Be ready to give your best and nothing less!
You also need to make sure you are ready technically/skillfully. Many new players make the mistake of just focusing on the “summer workout plan” so much that they forget they are going out for a soccer tryout, not the track team! It’s easier to spot a player that’s technically poor than a player that did not follow their summer workout plan to the T. So, if you’re a new player, you should be spending more time with your ball than with your running shoes. You should spend at least 30min everyday juggling to improve your touches, about an hour everyday doing cone drills by yourself, and about an hour and a half to two hours getting to together with your team or friends to play at least three times a week. That sounds like a lot, right? Well, how bad do you want to make the team? The more you play throughout the summer, the more comfortable you will be on the ball and the more you will improve. Coaches are very impressed when they see a player control a difficult ball, dribble out of an impossible situation, make a great tackle, or score a difficult goal. It’s great if you have a great time on the mile test, but there’s no game without the ball.
Be physically ready by being fit. In the previous point, we put a lot of emphasis on being technically/skillfully ready, but remember, your fitness will give you the freedom to express yourself. You may make the team with your skills, but you will not last long enough on the field to express yourself and make a difference if you aren’t physically ready. You do not need to run every day throughout the summer to be fit, but you must show up on the day of your tryout mentally and physically prepared to run the 2 miles under 12min, if that is in fact your fitness test. Many players surprisingly train for soccer the way they would train for a cross country meet. If you want to be truly soccer fit, spend most of you work out time doing interval running. Being physically ready also helps prevent injuries that may slow you down during the try out and that’s the last thing you need when you are fighting for your spot. Eating and hydrating well are all part of being physically ready.
Confidence makes the difference. Unfortunately, confidence cannot be taught, but when you put in the time to ready yourself technically and physically, you should have no reason not to be confident. Confidence comes from being well prepared and knowing that you have done all you can to meet and overcome the upcoming challenge. You may be wondering, what being confident really has to do with a tryout. Well, it has everything to do with it. Those that are confident do not hold back, they do not dwell on mistakes, they play as if they weren’t being rated, and they just enjoy themselves.
Getting ready for your high school tryout should be fun. Enjoy pushing and getting the best out of yourself, but do it the smart and right way. Though your summer packet is meant to get you ready for the season, it’s also not the measuring stick you should live by. Spend more time during the summer playing and then playing some more because that’s what the game is all about. And above all, remember, there is no game without the ball.
Kokou Assigbe, Coaching Director at World Class Premier