Over the years, I have have spent hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours evaluating athletes for selection to high performance teams, provincial programs and to make recommendations to college teams. For scouts, evaluators and recruiting coaches, there is often little or no communication on field with the athletes at all during the evaluation, and as a result, what you see is what you get.
What scouts are looking for varies depending on the sport and age group but there are a few universal pointers I would like to pass on to all athletes who find themselves in a tryout situation, so that you can make a killer first impression and really wow those recruiters. Make it impossible to NOT select you!
Many if not all of these can be applied to ANY athlete in ANY sport.
Here are a few ways to help yourself STAND OUT IN A CROWD!
You are a Number:
In tryout situations, often you are not identified by your name, you are identified by your jersey or pinnie number. If the evaluator doesn’t personally know you, you are ONLY identifiable by your number. We organize our notes, and grade each athlete based on your number. So now that you know your number is important, please ask yourself these three questions:
- Is your # on right? If your tryout pinney is on inside out, 5’s look like 2’s, 12 and 15s get confusing and 6 and 9’s. Make life easy on your selectors – wear your pinney right side out!
- Do you Have long hair? Put your hair up, braid it or put it in a bun. Long pony tails get in the way and make 6, 8 and 0 very hard to distinguish in the moment.
- What else could be covering my number? If you start the session with a hoodie on, tuck the hood inside your pinney – hoods cover numbers!
When you start getting hot, and want to take off some layers, please make sure you put your number on right side out, if your pinnie is inside out your number is not visible!
Clothing Makes the Athlete:
Black, navy blue, and white solid colours are very common. Don’t blend in with the crowd. Try and wear something bright, stripes, patterns or anything else that will make you stand out in a group.
In general you want to look put together, and athletic. This is an aside, but as you progress in sport coaches and administrators want to know that you will represent your organization, club, team etc with class. Some things you can leave at home:
- Baggy, oversized clothing: shirts, hoodies, shorts etc. They look sloppy, and they can get in the way of your skill execution.
- Tiny little bootie shorts. just don’t go there
- Low cut or revealing tops. see above.
- Lots of jewellery.
- Makeup. it’s un-necessary and doesn’t make you play better. trust me.
Walk the Walk: my pet peeve
I’m a field hockey coach, and in the sport of field hockey the best way to look the part is to carry your stick correctly! This means in warm up, in drills, out of drills, in games (especially in games) on ball, off ball. ALL THE TIME!
Don’t drag it on the ground
Don’t hold it upside down
Don’t hold it backwards (yes this happens!)
use two hands
It’s a field hockey stick, not a lacrosse stick – it belongs on the ground.
If your sport comes with equipment, make sure you are carrying that equipment correctly all the time. Don’t use it to screw around, and always treat it with respect. It makes more of a difference than you think.
Big Brother is always watching:
Our evaluation starts when you arrive at the field, and ends when you leave the field. What does this mean?
- When you are standing around waiting for the group warmup to start – what are you doing? how are you acting? are you presenting yourself at your best?
- Be sharp in warmup – don’t goof off, stay focused, be precise with your movements.
- In passing and warmup drills: head down, work hard. This is not chat with your partner time. We are watching more than your technique, we are looking for work ethic, focus and precise execution and do not want to see someone simply going through the motions, that makes you look lazy.
- In between drills, at water breaks, and especially during ‘ball shags’ be aware of your technique, you may think you’re just hitting balls back to the pile – but make sure you do it well!
- Cool down is important- help collect equipment, cool your body down, do a good stretch. Don’t just grab your bag and go!
Get involved stay involved
Another selectors asked me once, “What position would you play at a tryout?” my response was easy. Centre Mid. Why? Because it’s the middle of the field, and it gets the most action. I want the most touches on the ball and the biggest opportunity to make an impact in a small amount of time.
What would your answer be? Consider this:
- If you are a forward, your skill set is most likely strongest when you are attacking – do NOT put yourself on defence in game situation drills. Opposite goes for Defenders.
- If your optimal position is not allowing you to be active in the flow of the game, change positions. For example if your team is strong, and you are a defender don’t find yourself watching from the backfield – push forward, and attack, switch with someone else for a while – get involved!
- Don’t sit back and rely on someone else to get you the ball, if you are not getting the ball you are not involved. And you may need to put yourself in a better position to make in impact in the game.
- Be involved in every play both on AND off ball – movement off the ball can be as powerful, and as impact-full in the game as ball possession.
- Work hard. At the end of the day, it is not always the most skilled that make the best impression, but the hardest workers.
Once you are involved regularly in the general play of the game, work to minimize turnovers or unforced errors. Now, I’m not saying you need to be perfect, but you do need to show us how you can recover from a mistake. If you make a bad play on offence, make a good play on defence. If you make a bad play on defence, make a good play on offence. It’s simple really, we want to see you work hard.
Be a good teammate
Be aware of your body language
Call your own fouls
Talk (directive communication – not gossip please!)
That’s it really. Tryouts, selection tournaments, camps and in game evaluations are about impressing the selectors, and as you can see from the above it’s not ALL about your skill level. Get the basics right first, then really wow us with your skill level afterward.
Good Luck. Have Fun and Work Hard!
Want to Learn More?
Check out some of the amazing resources available to you from the Athlete Page, so much amazing information and resources and the opportunity to get customized guidance and mentoring.