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14 Tips for Soccer Tryouts & Games

Updated: Apr 15

Soccer tryouts, soccer ID camps, and even big games can all be scary.


We want to help soccer players go through these events with less stress and even learn how to enjoy them. Email us or leave a comment on which tip(s) you are going to try and which worked for you.


In this post, we hear from a former Head Soccer Coach at Vanderbilt University who gives her tips for performing at your best. We also share a video interview with former Wake Forest men's soccer player, team Captain, and former NCFC pro player, Austin da Luz. We will also hear from Coach Mike and Coach Cam of Captain Elite as they interview Austin to get his personal tips and they share their own advice on how to shine when coaches are watching you perform.


Some soccer tips you may already know.


There were a couple of tips that even surprised us and gave us a completely different perspective on what players could do in the next tryout, soccer id camp, or game, so make sure to read this blog and watch the video today!


This is one of those blog posts that can be useful for every soccer player out there. These players and coaches provide excellent tips for your soccer players to use to make these times more tolerable and even though no one looks forward to a tryout, these tips can help make these times less stressful.



2 youth soccer players compete in a summer soccer camp
Players compete at Captain Elite Summer Soccer Camp

Ronnie Woodard, former head D1 soccer coach at Vanderbilt and current soccer coach at Tennessee Soccer Club says that in soccer tryouts, coaches are looking for players who are coachable as well as players who work hard. She recommends keeping eye contact with the coaches when they are giving you instructions during drills. This lets a coach know you are interested in their instructions and feedback. This also shows that you are a player who wants to be coached. You should also use the feedback a coach gives you so they know you've been listening.


Coach Woodard's Tip #1 Be coachable. Look coaches in the eye when they're giving you instructions and follow their instructions.




Coach Woodard also says that coaches notice players who somehow get their attention. Maybe you're good at finishing or you have a great first touch. Whatever your strength, use it to your advantage during tryouts and id camps.


Coach Woodard's Tip #2 Use a strength you have to get the coaches to notice you.




The next point she makes is that all players are going to make mistakes. It's what you do on the field after you make a mistake that's important. We agree! How many times have you seen a player make a mistake, lose the ball, and then watch the other player take it down the field? Don't do this! If you lose the ball, fight to win it back. This is a very effective way to get a coach to notice how you recover after a mistake. Follow Captain Elite's law #4 Be a Hard Worker.


Coach Woodard's Tip #3 If you make a mistake, work hard to recover by getting the ball back.




high school and college soccer players in group photo at an elite soccer camp in North Carolina
Elite Summer Soccer Camp in North Carolina


Coach Woodard understands that it's hard to stand out and get noticed for most young players in a tryout. It is hard to establish your worthiness in such a short period of time, whether in a soccer tryout or in a soccer ID camp. That's why it's important to approach the event by appreciating the opportunity you've been given to attend. Again, we agree with her 100%!


This is Captain Elite's Law #5. Be Thankful. If players can be happy for just being able to attend the tryout, id camp, or important game and thank the coaches and referees after they finish, they will come away much happier whether win, lose, or tie. Maybe you don't make this team but you'll have another shot at other opportunities and come out a winner.


Coach Woodard's Tip #4 Be grateful no matter the outcome.




Most players (and even parents) believe that a tryout or id camp is only about the players being chosen or not being chosen for a team. We love that Coach Woodard suggests that these events are perfect opportunities for families to also see if they want to be on this coach's team.


Does the coach seem fair and compassionate? Do they have good comraderie with the players? Is this coach a good teacher? Consider the coach and figure out if this is someone you'd like to play for and can you learn from them?


Coach Woodard's Tip #5 Tryouts & ID camps are also coach auditions.




She is also looking for technically-skilled players. Being good at dribbling, passing, 1st touch, and striking may seem basic to most players, but with only average skill it is hard to stand out. This is Captain Elite's law #3 I am Extraordinary at the Ordinary.


Develop your technical skills so that you can focus on your work ethic and coachability at the tryout, id camp, or game. Better technical skills make the game more fun and tryouts less stressful! You are never too old to improve your technical skills.


Coach Woodard's Tip #6 Improve your technical skills.



We would like to thank Coach Ronnie Woodard for her excellent advice. If you want to read US Youth Soccer's complete interview with Coach Woodard, you will find it HERE.



Now listen to Captain Elite's interview with former Wake Forest Men's Soccer player & captain and former pro soccer player, Austin da Luz, talk about his tips for getting through these soccer tryouts, id camps, and games and coming out on top. Compare how his suggestions relates to Coach Woodard's.





Austin presented his own take on how to get through challenging times in tryouts, id camps, and games. His first point is that, "Soccer is a game of mistakes."


Players have to learn to embrace mistakes or as Coach Keating says, "Failure is not an option. It's a biological necessity."


Austin said he always made sure that when he made a mistake, his next action would be to turn that mistake into something positive as quickly as possible. This allowed him to also focus on something positive instead of focusing on the mistake which is a negative!


Coach Cam followed up by saying that she likes to remember a comment of Lionel Messi's when he talked about making 50 mistakes in a good game. This shows us how our own mistakes are entirely normal and should be expected! Cam also recommends that players take a coach's feedback as positive and try to learn from that feedback instead of taking it too personally.


Austin's Tip #1 Turn your negative into a positive.




During the video interview with Austin, a Captain Elite player asks how she should respond if she gets cut or moved to a lower-level team after tryouts.


Austin said that as humans, it's ok to feel disappointed. It's what we do with the disappointment that matters most. Taking the initiative to do the work that's necessary to get moved up again in the next tryout, or noticed at the next id camp, or off the bench in the next game is what's most important.


Fleeting disappointments can be overcome by the next door that you open through your efforts. This is an example of another Captain Elite Law #1 I am Responsible for My Own Development.


It's not the coaches who are responsible or your parents or the other players. Ultimately, your success is up to you!


Austin's Tip #2 It's ok to feel disappointment. Now work hard to make your comeback!




On the call, players asked how to relieve nerves before a tryout or game.


Cam Coach said she always listened to upbeat music on the way to games, tryouts, & id camps. She also tries to be thankful that she is able to be on the field doing what she loves whenever playing or coaching. Coach Mike said it's been proven that gratitude relieves stress not only for soccer players but for people in general. Austin's process is that he tries to lighten the mood on the bench for other players so they're loose. This also helps him not stay too much in his own head which would be stressful for him.


Coach Mike talks about the happiness study done at Harvard and how most people think that in order to be happy they need to achieve things like making a higher level team. However, the study actually indicated that you have to be happy in order to perform well. You need to be happy going into a game, a tryout, or an ID camp to do your best.


Austin expanded on this topic by recommending that all players have something outside of soccer that makes them happy. If players are only focused on soccer and if soccer doesn't go well on a given day, that player is not going to be happy.


Your hobby could be another sport you love or any hobby that's important to you like music, art, school, etc. We know a player from Virginia who loves playing the piano and is becoming very accomplished. He eventually took a break from soccer to pursue this passion in music. Expand your horizons!


Austin's Tip #3 Develop a hobby that's important to you outside of soccer.




Soccer Players Compete at Captain Elite's NC Soccer Camp
Soccer Players Compete at Captain Elite's NC Soccer Camp


Austin believes that if a player wants to make a higher-level team it is ok to let the coach know about these ambitions by framing that conversation in a positive way. He stresses not to talk about how you're better than the other players or how you deserve to be on the team, but simply to let the coach know that you're interested in working to make this higher-level team. The player can tell the coach they would like to work to make the team and what does the coach think they need to achieve in order that make that ambition a reality. Make sure to have this conversation a couple of months before Tryouts so that you give yourself enough time to work on what the coach suggests you need to do.


Austin's Tip #4 Talk with your coach about your ambitions and get feedback on how to get there.




Austin uses meditation techniques to help himself work through his nervousness and to explore and confront exactly what's making him nervous. He spends 15-20 minutes per day in meditation and even though it doesn't completely erase all nervousness, it does help reduce his negative feelings before stressful situations like games. Austin said when he completely relaxes and focuses on his breathing, he often realizes what is making him nervous. This allows him to confront that feeling and understand it better which can then lead to solving the issue.


Austin's Tip #5 Try Meditation to figure out how to calm your nerves.





soccer players compete at Captain Elite's summer soccer camp in north carolina
Soccer 1v1 at Captain Elite's Soccer Camp



Coach Mike and Austin agree that if you're going into soccer tryouts or games and you believe that the cards are stacked against you or that the outcome is or will be unfair, that's a rabbit hole that is hard to come out of.


Blaming other players or coaches for not being selected for teams or positions won't get you any closer to fulfilling your dreams. Coaches have a big responsibility during tryouts, games, and id camps. They have to choose not only the best players but they are also responsible for picking a roster of players who work well together for the good of the entire team. Perhaps you're a great midfielder who is trying to make a team that already has several good midfielders and the coach is looking for an outside back. You cannot always know what a coach is looking for, so you have to work to make yourself valuable to the team.


Your job is to figure out what you can do as a player to become more valuable to coaches. Can you strike with both feet? Can you or are you willing to play different positions? Have you mastered your skills in dribbling, passing, first touch, and striking? How much extra work are you putting in on your own time to develop your technical skills?


Remember Captain Elite's Law #1 I am Responsible for My Own Development.


You have more control over your destiny than you may know. Avoid the rabbit hole trap of blaming others if you're not chosen at a tryout. Work hard ahead of time and be prepared.


Ronaldo's coach once advised him to look around him. He said Ronaldo's mission was to work harder than every other player he saw around him. You may not be Ronaldo but you can still work hard to create your own destiny and make yourself a valuable player to coaches and teams.


Austin's Tip #6 Avoid the rabbit hole of blaming others.




Thank you Austin! You're a great person and an inspiration to everyone around you!




Austin da Luz posing with soccer players at Captain Elite's January soccer Bash camp
Austin da Luz at Captain Elite's January Soccer Bash Camp



Players often find themselves in tryout situations where they don't know the other players they have been matched with. You may find that you're often left out of plays and aren't getting your foot on the ball as much as you'd like. If you find yourself in a tryout or at an id camp and other players aren't passing you the ball, Coach Mike recommends that you make attempts to get free and call for the ball.


Coaches will notice if you're a player who constantly gets yourself into a good position to receive a pass and you call for the ball. Don't be afraid to use your voice in a positive way to help your team. Even if you're in a situation where other players aren't passing you the ball, coaches will notice if you're open but others aren't including you in the play.


Coach Mike's Tip #1: Get yourself in a good position and use your voice to call for the ball.




Coach Mike's Tip #2: Become a technically-skilled player.


Many of our tips above talk about making sure you have the technical skills you need to set yourself apart at a tryout, id camp, or game. Can you settle the ball cleanly when someone passes to you? Are you able to take shots on goal from different distances with your right and left foot? Are you able to cleanly beat defenders when dribbling?


If you answered NO to any of these questions, you may be a hard worker and very committed, but without the technical skills you need to succeed, there is only so far you can progress in the sport.


If you feel like you're not at the skill level you need to be before tryouts or you want to distinguish yourself at id camps or games, training at home in our skill development portal will get you the skills you need before these important events. All our players set goals and train 2 hours or more per week to develop the necessary soccer technical skills in dribbling, passing, 1st touch, and striking in their own personal training portal.


At Captain Elite, we have coached thousands of players from rec to pro and many of our players go on to play at the highest levels in soccer.


A soccer player's ultimate goal is to play more and have fun doing it. That's what we teach you how to do at Captain Elite. We help you fulfill your dreams of playing more and loving the sport even more than you do now.


Email us or leave a comment on which tip(s) you are going to try and which worked for you.


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Join our next round of 5 or 10-Week High-Performance courses today. Learn more, get ready for upcoming tryouts, id camps, and big games, and enroll today HERE.


Learn more about Captain Elite and our 5 Laws of Player Development HERE.


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Coach Mike Keating posing with young soccer players
Coach Mike with Young Players He Trains Full Tilt at the Edge

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