You’ve done it. You’ve bagged a spot at a football trial. Whether it’s a live assessment or an exit trial, you’re bound to be a little nervous; after all, this opportunity could lead to a lifelong career!
To calm your pre-trial nerves, it’s essential to be prepared. In this article, we explore exactly how to prepare for and get selected at football trials to give you a head start. Once you’re ready to apply for a football trial, upcoming events can be found on the PFSA website.
Create a Training Plan
Coming up to your trial date, create a personal training and development plan to ensure you’re fully prepared. The plan should include the four main areas of the football academy frameworks: technical preparation, tactical preparation, mental preparation, and physical preparation. Below, we explore the four areas in more detail.
- Technical Preparation – Technical preparation covers basic skills such as passing, shooting, dribbling, and ball manipulation. Thankfully, each of these skills can be practised independently, so you can work on your skills away from your normal training group.
- Tactical Preparation – Tactical awareness can be improved by watching professional footballers. Before your trial, try to watch games from all over the world. For best results, carefully watch the players in your position. Take note of how they communicate with the rest of the team, how efficient they are with the ball, and their overall style of play. This will help you develop your awareness both on and off the ball.
- Mental Preparation – The next area of the football academy framework is mental preparation. To improve this, play through the trial in your head. Imagine yourself controlling the ball, scoring a goal, or saving a penalty. Whilst you’re doing so, remember to relax and keep your mind at ease. Visualising a positive experience will help you to control your nerves on the day.
- Physical Preparation – Physical preparation is the final area of the football academy framework. This area is all about your physical fitness. To get selected at a football trial, you need to be in the best shape possible. To make this happen, work on your physical fitness leading up to the day. In addition to your regular training, hit the gym and use the treadmill. Practising short sprints regularly will improve your speed, acceleration, strength, and cardiovascular endurance to give you an edge over your competition.
If you’re a football fanatic, you’ll likely know the importance of diet in sporting performance. To perform at your best, be sure to eat the right foods leading up to your trial. In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, it’s important to consume the correct amount of food at the correct time before the event.
For best results, you need to have enough carbohydrates in your system to keep you going. It’s also important to be fully hydrated on the day. While having a glass of water before the trial is recommended, downing copious amounts will not magically hydrate you. For best results, you should be drinking at least 2 litres of water per day the week before to stay fully hydrated.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Research suggests that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on athletic performance. Not getting enough sleep can lower your cardiovascular ability and decrease your muscular strength.
As you can imagine, this isn’t what you need before a football trial! To prevent this, it’s essential to get enough sleep in the nights leading up to your trial. To get your body into a routine, we suggest heading to bed the same time each night. If possible, try to get at least eight hours of quality sleep.
Look the Part
Your first impression will have a lasting effect on recruiters, so it’s essential to look the part. If you want to be taken seriously, be sure to have all the right training gear. Before the event, pack a large sports bag with:
- Clean boots with suitable studs for grass. To avoid painful blisters, be sure to break in new boots before the trial.
- Astroturf trainers
- Football boots that are suitable for hard ground
- Training tracksuit
- Shin pads
- Well-fitting football shirt
- Water bottle
If you want to warm up before the trial, we also suggest taking a football. If you arrive early, kicking the ball around will help you to loosen up and keep your mind busy.
Stick to Your Strengths
To be a professional footballer, you need to play well when under pressure. A football trial is as high-pressure as it comes, so performing well in this situation will impress the recruiters.
Contrary to popular belief, recruiters aren’t necessarily looking for special skills. For the most part, they want to see that you can do the basics well in a high-pressure environment. If you’re a midfielder, stick to that position and don’t try to be something that you’re not.
Get Stuck In
A football trial is your chance to show the recruiters what you’ve got. To do this, it’s important to get stuck in! With limited time to impress, don’t waste time standing around.
While football is a team game, the business is ruthless. Every player at the trial is trying to bag a contract, so you’ll need to be a little selfish. If there is a tackle to be won, try to win it. Remember that you’re there to score a place on the team, not to make friends.
Don’t Give Up
Not all trials are successful. To make it big, you’ll need to keep playing through the rejections. Football is a game of opinions, so don’t let the opinion of one recruiter determine your future. If you don’t get selected, you may need to further improve your skills. Keep training, attend as many trials as possible, and be positive but realistic about your skills.