To be successful in a tryout you need to show more that tactical and technical qualities, it’s also important to show great behaviour off the pitch.

A player can get into a club via various routes: by the head coach’s knowledge of the player, by being in demand by a club, or simply due to a player’s high level and performance. Whatever the case, the most probable is that the player is given a trial to see if they have what it takes to play in the colours of the club. But what exactly does this football exam consist of, which can play a huge part in a player’s career? How does a tryout work?

“When being picked for a trial at a club it’s all about joining up with the team and training like any other”, Marc Domínguez Martín explains, head of Institutional Relations at Marcet’s High Performance Academy. “The team that invites the players values their technical-tactical side of their game as well as their behaviour off the pitch, with an aim of signing them if they fit into the clubs philosophy”. According to Domínguez, tension is the worst enemy for any player facing a tryout of this kind because “players know they’ve got a great opportunity and it’s normal for them to get nervous”.

Arnold Barahona knows this very clearly, who remembers being “a little uneasy” before one of the most important sessions of his career. The Honduran attacking midfielder will travel to Seville along with three of his teammates to trial for Real Betis Balompié. In the video, the four Marcet players talk to us about their sensations before they leave on their journey and explain how they’ve prepared in order to stand out in front of the coaches at the Andalusian Club:

 But it’s not only about showing their qualities on the pitch it’s also about their discipline off it. “Each club has it’s own style and each searches for specific player profiles to fit into their model of play”, points out Domínguez. Ex-coach and scout at Levante UD, the Marcet coach dissects the world of tryouts to clear up all essentials needed in todays football.

How do trials unravel?

“Normally players join up with the squads and train as if they were any other player in the team. Clubs rarely organise specific training just for trialists. They prefer to see them in an everyday situation, as it’s the best way to value their performance. And it’s even better whilst during a match”.

How long do trials last?

“They’re normally two to three days long, but can last up to a week. In some cases, if they’re looking to cover a position or a need urgently they can last up to 10 days. If in the time given, players don’t fit into the philosophy of the team, they discard the player so that no more time is lost”.

Why are trials done?

“Each club has different objectives. Normally smaller clubs or clubs that have just been promoted want to improve their squads in general, without setting specific objectives. On the other hand, top flight clubs do them as they are trying to cover concrete needs based on vacancies that they have in a given moment. These teams look for certain attributes and positions. If they have no needs to cover they won’t offer any trails “.

Is the objective always to sign someone?

“Not always. In fact, some tryouts can be a hoax, as they sometimes just do them for an economic return. They aren’t usually set up by the coaching staff at the club, but by the marketing department. In these cases, the clubs know beforehand that the participants won’t bring anything to the table”.

What errors can players make?

“A player can always have shaky legs before a trial for a club. It’s a complicated context, because a different type of pressure is put on players that they are not used to. The tension can have a negative effect on the players when it comes to their decision making as well as their technical ability. Due to this it’s very important that the footballer on trial acts as natural as possible in order to get the best out of themselves. This is possibly the most complicated part of a trial”.

Is there risk of overacting?

“Wanting to show more than what’s needed is one of the biggest errors. So players have to reflect on what the club is really looking for. For this reason they have to perform in the most efficient and productive way in order to show team ethic. Football is a team sport and the whole team has to be put above individuals.

How many trials do clubs do?

“At a top level club they can do around 3 to 5 kids per category each week. Nonetheless, during competitive months the coaches don’t want any distractions to their squads so all trials are suspended”.

From what age do they offer trials?

“At big clubs, they start from the U-9s age group. At smaller teams they start from around U-12s or U-14s age groups. Basically it’s a question of costs or lack of accommodation in the residencies. Other clubs don’t offer trials to players until they’re 14-15 years old, as they think that the younger kids aren’t mature enough to face the process”.

When are trials usually held?

“They’re normally held in the Summer, during Christmas or easter. But most of the time during May and June, which is when they’re preparing the new set-ups for the follow season. There are also clubs that start to plan from March or April and the number of players on trial during these months can also be quite high.

How do you get a trial at a club?

“Normally a scout from a club that’s organising a trial spots the player in question. But sometimes there can be an external representative. But for certain, scouts always know their clubs better and what their looking for is always adapted around what the club needs”.
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