De-stress your player trials

Player trials are likely to be one of the most stressful events facing young players after they have been missing games due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even the most confident players will get stressed out when they have to put their talents on show to a new group of coaches and players. And now without the help of a full season behind them they will feel a lot more exposed than normal.

Understanding how to prepare for player trials is key to it running smoothly and getting players at ease or you will never really see the best of them. As the coach you need to sort out in your head what it is you are looking for.

There are four main things to find out: Physical, technical, mental and tactical. Depending on the age of the players you will have to work out what your team needs and how the trialists will fit in with the players in your team.

Check out the advice and activities below to help you.

Start your planning using my 13-step guide Stage your own soccer trials. It gives you hints and tips about what you should be doing, how you should do it and what you need to achieve from it.

Now you need some sessions to run – Skills round-up is my go-to session for running trials. It is a compact game that is easy to control and enables you to see what every player is doing. It is easy to see if players are at the level you need.

Another good session to run is one where communication is key to the set up. The last thing you want is a player who can’t get on with his team mates, so test their communication skills with a small-sided game called the Sweeper game. It’s a brilliant way to get new players involved and talking on the pitch.

I always run a session where players have to listen out for an instruction from me because it shows they are listening and concentrating on the task I have given them. In Transitions: your number’s up players listen out for their number to be called – when they hear it they join a different game.

Finally, for those of you wanting to see how younger players react at training try Chain Gang. It’s great for seeing how active the youngsters are and enables you to gauge how hard they try to understand and take part in the game. It’s good fun and a brilliant way to see if they will fit into your team.

Also don’t forget to check out my latest podcast – Touchline Tales: Episode 3 Coach mentor. I speak to a head coach about how using a mentor helps him to educate the coaches under him.

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