What Do Soccer Coaches Look for in Tryouts

Have you ever wondered what soccer coaches look for in tryouts? You need to be aware of a few things, and in this article, I will give you a coach’s view of what coaches look for. Opinions vary among coaches but the detail I will share in this article would be necessary for most coaches.

What do soccer coaches look for in tryouts?

Technically efficient, game-intelligent players, who demonstrate a range of physical qualities are what soccer coaches look for in tryouts. There are also social factors that stand out too such as the support a player has along with their background.

The acronym T.I.P.S. is a great place to start when trying to understand what soccer coaches look for during tryouts. I have summarised what each topic means below:

  • Technique: Relates to the ball skills of the player and their ability to handle the ball
  • Intelligence: Refers to learning, game understanding, and decision making
  • Physicality: This is about how well the player uses their body to dominate their position
  • Sociological: Not soccer-related but important factors such as background, support, and education

There are other things, that soccer coaches look for in tryouts such as coachability, effort, and commitment. These factors are often controllable factors from players. I have written an article on this topic.

The remainder of the article will cover the T.I.P.S acronym and provide a little more depth about spect of what coaches look for in tryouts.


A player needs to have a good grasp of the basic techniques to play the game. The list is not exhaustive but the techniques I feel coaches look for are as follows. Use of the first touch, ability to run with the ball, 1v1 attacking and defending, range of passing.

First touch, players who stand out use their touch well to give them time on the ball, take an opponent out of the game or create space by holding onto the ball to draw in some pressure. Players who do this well will stand out. Players are always using their touch to perform the next action.

Running with the ball is a quality you want players to have. Players who can run the ball well, disrupt the opponent’s team shape and cause problems for opponents. Running with the ball takes the pressure off the team and helps to move a team up the field.

Dominate 1v1s, The 1v1 duel is a vital part of soccer, and players who are able to dominate the attacking and defending contests will stand out. In an attack, changes in speed, feints, and changes of direction make it hard for defenders. In defense, tackling, blocking, marking, and intercepting are essential skills to master to be an excellent 1v1 defender.

Range of passing, players who possess a range of short, forward, and long passing are desirable. They help to connect players and control the speed and intensity of the game. Players who can play forward passes that take opponents out of the game really stand out.


Intelligent players often demonstrate a good awareness of the next pass. They are usually one step ahead of the opponent and use their brains well to overcome the challenges of the game. Players with good game intelligence scan ahead, anticipate things, and make good decisions, and they are good learners.

Scanning ahead relates to preparing themselves before they receive the ball. They have looked and have a good idea about their next action. This makes it look like the game comes easy to them.

Anticipation is about predicting things, such as where the ball will land, what direction the player will move, or how a player plans to react. It involves reading body movements, and the player’s intentions. Anticipation buys players time and helps them stand out over others.

Good decision-makers are players who make the right choice at the right time. They are unselfish and have a good game understanding. Decisions such as dribble or pass, shoot or set up, press or drop are examples of decisions that good players do well.

Good learners are people who take onboard information and apply it quickly. They listen to the detail provided and they are able to action it quickly. Good learners also learn from mistakes and setbacks, they do not dwell on errors they learn and move on.


Physicality is something that can stand out during soccer tryouts. Every player who plays soccer will have a physical characteristic that stands out. Speed, strength, and agility are three qualities that stand out. These characteristics will stand out if a player possesses and uses them.

Speed is about moving from slow to fast in a short period of time. This change of pace limits the defender’s reaction time and creates distance between the fast player and the opponent chasing them. Coaches want to see fast players that understand when and where to use their assets.

Strength is desirable because soccer is a contact sport. Strong players can protect and shield the ball from opponents. Likewise, a strong defender can use their body to dominate attackers with nudges, shoulder charges, and holding onto players. Strong players are often good at winning or securing the ball.

Agility relates to using quick changes of direction to create space to attack. As a defender, quick changes of direction at speed are needed to stay close or react to the opponent’s movements. Agility, if used correctly is really difficult to defend against. Players often cannot move their feet or bodies quickly enough. Clever attackers spot this and will use agility to make the defender turn and change direction.

A combination of one or more physical characteristics is certainly something what soccer coaches look for in tryouts.


The sociological element is not necessarily about soccer. This element relates to the person and personality of the player. This is not always something a coach can see immediately but if a club is interested in a player, it is almost certain that they will check the player, background, education, and support.

Background: This is to see if the player would fit in. Do the values of the coach, club and player align? Where does the player live? How far do they have to travel? Do they have lots of siblings? Financially is it possible to make it work? (travel expenses, journey time, other commitments to make practice). Both the player and coach need to be sure it can work.

Education: The chances of becoming a professional soccer player are less than 1%. Every player will need a plan B or something else to do after a professional career is over. Education will work alongside soccer to give the player more options. Education can also be a good indicator of how good a learner a player is. Coaches like to work with players who can learn quickly.

Support: Refers to the closest people around the player. If the player does not have a good support network of friends and family, progression can become difficult. A club will attempt to find out about the support available to players so they understand what to expect if a player was successful at tryouts.

In Summary

Soccer coaches are looking for technically efficient players who are intelligent in terms of their understanding of the game. This means players that are able to receive the ball under pressure and make good decisions that can influence the state of the game.

Physicality is another factor that soccer coaches are looking for during tryouts. They are looking for standout qualities such as speed, strength, or agility. These are attributes that coaches require to build a successful team. If you are a player who possesses one or more of these qualities then you have a good chance of standing out.

The player’s personality and backgrounds are just as important as some of the technical and physical stuff. Coaches want players who are coachable and willing to learn. They might check out a player’s background to understand the player better and get some context about what it might be like to work with that player. They also want to know if a player will fit in with the squad they already have.

Frequent Questions

What do coaches look for in trials?

A coach will respect your attitude, your capacity for accepting constructive criticism, your ability to be realistic about your athletic abilities, and your willingness to listen to others. All of these traits will be taken into account as you go closer to the trial’s intended outcome.

How do soccer coaches pick players?

Coaches look for the strongest players at soccer tryouts to assemble the finest team possible. Sometimes, when soccer tryouts are held, the coaches are seeking a few players who can fit in even if they already know who their core team is. However, there is a tonne of additional factors that are relevant.

How do you impress a coach at tryouts?

Show your coach that you are a leader. Approach the coach while you are there and say hello. Smile and provide a solid handshake while maintaining close eye contact. Query them regarding their day and ask questions about the program.