5 Tips to INSTANTLY Impress at Sport Trials / Tryouts

16th February 2024
Read time: 1 mins 55 secs

Sports trials and tryouts can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences any athlete can go through.

You’re desperate to impress amongst a group of other athletes all vying for a few places.

You’ve got to impress if you stand any chance of being considered for selection.

And I get it; I’ve actually been there.

When I was 14 years old, I trialled for my first representative team in cricket, and the idea of a trial was a hugely daunting thought.

When I arrived, I saw 100 kids, many of whom were stronger, faster, and better than me.

Yet when the day arrived to select the 15-man squad, I got the last place on the list.

So how did I go from the bottom 15 to earning myself a spot and beginning my journey to becoming a professional?

Well, it wasn’t all skill, raw talent, or natural ability. It was something else.

But it’s worth noting before we go any further that one thing you can’t avoid is skillset; you need some ability in the sport that you’re trialling in.

If I were to turn up to an archery team trial, no matter how much I focus on other aspects of my game, I need to have some form of ability when it comes to the skill.

But the chances are that if you’ve got into a trial, you have the skills to some degree, someone has seen something and invited you, or if it’s an open tryout.

The thing is, coaches are not just looking for those skills; they’re looking for the potential for growth and development, and they are also looking for something else: mentality.

They want an attitude that is switched on and one they can work with.

So today I’m going to give you five things you can do to stand out at trials and dramatically increase your chances of being selected.

Standing out in a tryout is all about finding your And.

So that when coaches think of you, potentially alongside very similar players, they think of you. They are a great player, and…

Think of it like a USP in business. A unique selling point. Something that makes you stand out from the competition.

Finding your AND allows you to stand out at the moment when it comes to coaches selecting who they want on their team.

If they are given two athletes with the exact same ability,

and they are weighing up who to go with.

One of these 5 tips could be your AND, and it could end up tipping the balance towards you and making you the more attractive option to select.

Tip 1: Professional mindset

When you’re trialling, it’s often to go to a level above where you’re currently at.

While you might not have the skills or be a finished professional, having the mindset of a pro is free.

Having professionalism in trials shows that you are serious.

You want to go into a professional environment, so you’re going to have to show that you mean business.

If you were to mess around and not take things seriously, then how can you expect the coaches to take you seriously?

A professional attitude would be turning up on time, listening to coaches instructions, paying attention, putting in effort, not complaining, taking feedback, staying off your phone, being engaged, and wearing the correct kit.

When I was coaching a team in Australia, we were trialling about 80 kids for our team.

One kid turned up who was always on his phone, sitting down, messing around with other players and people that he knew.

Needless to say, when the time came and we called upon players to come to show us what they could do, he wasn’t there to be chosen; he lost his chance and had to wait another year to come back.

As I said, having a professional mindset costs nothing.

It not only helps you in the long run,.

People will take you seriously, be more invested in helping you improve, and hopefully pick you over others.

And having a professional mindset also includes number 2.

Tip 2: Asking questions

When I was trialling, because I didn’t have as much ability as others, one thing that I did was ask coaches questions.

It shows that you’re willing to learn.

Even if you do have the skills, asking questions shows you want to improve anyway.

And having been a coach on the other side of tryouts, I see the value.

You don’t see yourself as the finished article.

While coaches want to see technical skills,.

They also want to see someone they know is looking to develop.

They know that players are ever-evolving, so be aware.

You don’t know it all. You’ve got a growth mindset.

There’s another thing that’s happening as you ask questions.

You not only show the coaches that you care and want to get better,.

You get buy-in from the coaches.

And even better, if you ask for coaches input by asking questions like:

“What do you think would be best here?”

“If you were me, what would you do in this situation?”

Or even if you don’t end up being selected in the end, asking questions like:

“What do you need to see next time to think differently?”

Asking questions like these gets your coach to believe you are improving.

They might even start rooting for you.

And sometimes trials are not a one-time thing.

I had an athlete I was working with who said, I don’t know what they want to see or what I should be working on.

I asked, “Well, have you asked them?”

He thought I’d reinvented sports with this wild idea.

So he asked, his coaches told him, and we were able to form clear plans to help him achieve his goal.

When he came back, he’d put it into practice, and he got selected.

I get so many athletes that don’t know what their coaches want to see, and they give up.

But asking questions requires bravery, courage, and vulnerability.

You’ve got to put yourself out there.

Believe me, I did it.

It’s uncomfortable, but the payoff can be amazing. Whether you get in or not.

You’ll get guidance from the people that matter, and you can dramatically fast-track your success.

Tip 3: Stay in your lane.

When you’re on a trail, naturally, you’re going to look at everyone else.

You’re going to start comparing yourself to others.

When we turn our attention to others and start comparing, we open the door for self-doubt and anxiety and move our attention away from executing our skills.

Which is what trials are all about.

Being able to showcase what you can do.

In trials, you have to be focused on doing what you do best and showing off your skills to the best of your ability.

But this comparison can also go the other way if you start performing well.

You might make a load of shots and think, “This is going well; they’re going to pick me.”

You might think you’ve done enough.

You become complacent and begin to ease off, opening the door for poor performance or even for others to overtake you.

Your goal should be to consistently show what you need to do.

Focusing on you and what you do well.

Even if you are doing well.

Not comparing yourself to others by keeping track of the successes you’re having.

Staying in your lane involves staying focused on what you need to do rather than what others are doing.

Tip 4: Embrace mistakes.

While you’re on trial, you want to show that you’re good enough to be selected.

But there’s going to be moments where you make mistakes.

And while you may think that you’ve got judgmental eyes on you, waiting to criticise every false step,.

Any good coach knows that everyone makes mistakes.

But being able to make them, reset them, and go again shows characteristics that are extremely valuable to any team.

If you make a mistake and think that it’s done, it’s over.

You could disengage, think that it’s over, and miss the next opportunity to show what you can do.

A rugby player that I worked with once went to a trial, and as he stepped out onto the pitch with his first touch of the ball, he dropped it. Causing a turnover and resulting in a try.

But knowing how to reset and keep going.

He then made three subsequent passes that all resulted in scoring a try.

If you learn to embrace failures and mistakes as part of the process and stay focused on what you need to do to perform well, you give yourself the best chance of performing at your best.

And on top of this, showing mental characteristics that are valuable will help boost your image and perception among those watching and observing.

Which moves us onto our final and maybe surprising tip…

Tip 5: Helping others

As crazy as this sounds, helping others can work in your favour.

Chances are this is going to be for a team sport, but if it’s not, even if it’s for an individual sport,.

Supporting others while they are using their skills shows that you have the ability to work in a team.

Coaches don’t just want players who are good on the field and have high-level skills. They are also looking for high-level people.

And helping others isn’t about taking anything away from you.

If you follow these tips, focus on executing your own skills when it matters most. Do it with confidence, knowing your energy is producing those skills.

Helping others is another bonus tick under your name.

Taking the initiative to help others shows characteristics of leadership, such as your ability to build relationships with people.

Even working with other people in the setting can help reduce the tension and nerves you might be feeling by making those connections.

So don’t just see everyone as a threat or opponent. By helping them, they may be able to help you stand out among the crowd.

Whenever you're ready, there is a couple of ways I can help you:

MindStrong Sport App – Mental Skills Training for Athletes

Personal Mindset Coaching - Contact for more

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