How to impress in a Football Trial

So Football National Premier League Football Trials (NPL) season is upon us in October in Australia, so I though I would put this blog together for my own Nine One Football Academy students and anyone else on how to impress the coaches in a trial.

Now please remember this is not gospel as each trial and expectations will be different at each club but use these as tips and you should be ok in your trial process.

Before you go to trial

1. Be prepared

Have a bit of background knowledge on the team you are trialling for. What style of play do they have, do you fit into that.

Also what will the surface be like that I'm trialling on take long and short studs and indoor boots.

2. Be physically fit and in shape

You do not want to go into trials unprepared physically as you do not know what they may have you doing. You need to be fit and not carrying any injuries. If you are carrying a slight niggle it is best to tell the person conducting the trial beforehand of this what your limitations may be.

3. Be Early for your trial

You need to be composed and in a good mindset so make sure you allow for traffic and be at the venue ready and well in time for the start of your trial. Nothing worse than rushing in and being flustered or worse still late to a trial.

4. Your Position

Outline your preferred position but don't expect to be necessarily be in that position during a trial. Players these days for me need to be multi positional. You need to know how to defend and attack. If you are a right winger and are put on the left don't worry you will still be able to show you skills just a different way. There is also an abundance of midfielders these days and not so many strikers. So think and I good at finishing ? Then put your hand up to be striker. The more positions you can play the more beneficial you are to the team.

5. Expectation

Nerves can be good or bad. If you don't make it in one trial there is always another opportunity. You have to experience disappointment to become a better player. You don't lose you learn. Yes it is a pressure situation you may have one chance to impress but opportunities always arise in football. So just go out and enjoy playing football and see what happens.

At the Trial

1. Warm Up Correctly

Don't go to a trail and start smashing balls left right and centre before warming up correctly. Get a rondo or passing circuit going if you want to touch the ball before the trail.

2. Play to your strengths

You have strengths in your game. Play to them. Do not try stuff that you would not do normally in a game. Trials as are not the place for this. Keep it simple. Do the basics correctly.

3. Express Yourself

If you are a dribbler or flair player then choose the right moments to express this. Don't be afraid if it doesn't come off 1st time as these types of players do not have a 100% success rate. Try it again and learn from what didn't work last time. A good coach will see that you are not scared of failure especially if you pull the next move off and create a chance.

4. It's what you do off the ball

The higher you get in football it's not so much about what you do on the ball but what you do off the ball. Are you always supporting team mates ? When your team lose or win the ball can you transition quickly to help with the defence or attack? Are you constantly scanning and in space? If you are playing up front are you just standing there or are you constantly moving and trying to lose your marker? Good coaches will be watching this more sometimes than what you are doing on the ball. Because this shows your are an intelligent team player.

This is also crucial as a goalkeeper. Don't just stand there. Engage with the back four making yourself available.

5. Attitude

Do not sulk, drop your head, get in heated exchanges with team mates or answer back to a coach during a trial. Today I see so may talented players fail because of attitude. You need to be on it and positive at all times. Know when the time is for a bit of fun and a smile and when to work hard.

For me a goalkeeper coach attitude is what I look for now. Do you train hard and are serious about your position at all times during the trial. If I see you switch off or not do the basics correctly that is a black mark against you.

So many good players do not make it because of attitude. Don't be one of these players.

Also don't ask stupid or needless questions to the coach. This does not get him to remember you. Quiet the opposite. Thank the coach at the end for the trail and shake his hand is a nice way to end the trail.

6. Communication

You may not know players names, but at least try to remember a few playing around you. Communicate with them with the basics and the rest of the team. Encourage and lift you team mates during the game. There are few leaders in today's junior football, it is too quiet on the pitch so learn to communicate constantly and that will get noticed.

7. Don't be too much of a team player

This is a fine line but if you are a striker you have to be selfish and always be trying to score. Don't make a pass if you have the opportunity of a shot. You don't score by not having a shot.

8. Placement over Power

Get the shot on target and to do that you need to place the majority of the time not try to hit the ball as hard as you can to show you have a hard shot. This again is another modern day problem kids with an ego of how hard they can shoot. Majority of time these shots do not hit the target and you may think the coach is thinking 'oh wow look at his power' but I guarantee you I'm not.

9. Be Humble - Especially Parents

We know you want the best for your child but let his game do the talking. Not about who he trains with, what he's done and certainly don't approach the coach with this information. We really don't have the time during a trial for this. If you are cut on the day probably best not to approach the coach yourself as he is very busy. An email just asking what he can do better may work but again this may not get answered due to time. Just move on to the next trail and self assess what you think you did wrong.

10. Re Trialling

What if I haven't been retained but have been asked to re trial. Then obviously through the season you have not performed well enough, so it is fair enough to ask your coach what you need to improve on. To fix these may not be possible in a short amount of time. But there are specialised coaching academies or camps to see if this can be fixed up quickly. It may also be that clubs are just looking for something a little better so they offer a re trial. Don't be downhearted just follow the steps above.

11. I got Cut. That's it!

You may be cut for a number of reasons.

  • Only looking for a few players!

  • You didn't play aswell as you normally do because of nerves!

  • You are not the type of player that will suit their team!


  • You just are not good enough yet!

Sometimes you may have to play at Community level, get some extra coaching to get back or step up into NPL. It requires hard work to make it in football and less than 0.1% do so don;t be disheartened just enjoy playing football.

I hope this helps you in your trials and if so please leave us a comment on how you went.

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