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Sports Tryout Preparation: Tips for Player Success

Sports Tryout Preparation: Tips for Player Success

Sports Performance

At the end of last season, you set a goal. Maybe it was making the top team, solidifying your spot as a starter, or even deciding you want to make captain. So, what are your next steps? You naturally decide to hop on Instagram and Facebook to search for sports tryout preparation tips based on what the latest professional athletes are doing.

Looking at what professional athletes are doing and mimicking their workouts will not make you stronger or faster at your sport. The exercises that you see on social media are there to grab your attention and drive engagement. The practicality of these exercises helping increase your chances of excelling at tryouts? Pretty slim.

If you are unsure how to approach the tryout preparation process, we cover some crucial tips that can set you up for a successful tryout experience.

Youth playing basketball

Sports Tryout Preparation: What You Need to Know

Choose which skills to work on

Narrow in your focus to master a few specific skills rather than spreading yourself too thin and trying to excel at every skill before tryouts. A good tip: select focus skills based on your desired position. For instance, if you would like to make the outside hitter position on the volleyball team, focus on mastering your attacking, serving, and passing.

Determine a tactical plan

You are tied 3-3 in a game with 1 minute left on the clock. Your coach calls a time-out and immediately calls the team in for a huddle, strategizing a game plan for what can be done to win.

Similar to a team huddle, you as an individual player need to create a tactical game plan for how you will achieve your goals. If we were to look at the skill of attacking in volleyball, you could break down your action plan into the following:

  • Work on your approach towards the net. Ensure your steps are swift and precise which will set you up for a strong jump and strike. As a rule of thumb, your approach should be between 3-4 steps max.
  • Master your swing. This is all about maximizing the momentum and speed of your arm, setting it up for a powerful yet controlled swing.
  • Watch the ball. Once the ball leaves the opponent’s side of the court, keep an eye on the ball to determine its direction and speed. This will determine which type of attack should be set in place.

Develop a basic workout routine

Learning the skills needed for your desired position is an important part of training for a sports tryout. However, taking the time to develop a basic workout routine is essential to ensure your physical performance is up to par.

While determining what exercises will be included in your workout routine largely depends on the sport and position you are trying out for, below are a few universal exercises that can benefit any athlete.

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Sprints
  • Inverted rows
  • Push-ups
  • Jump rope
  • Rowing

Aside from practicing sport-specific skills, spend between 1-3 hours a week working on cardiovascular and weighted exercises. These exercises will improve your endurance, build muscle, and increase your mobility, making you a well-rounded athlete.

Soccer player kicking ball on field

Set aside practice time

Let’s say you have hockey tryouts that are less than two months away but have no access to a skating rink to practice your sport-specific skills. During the off-season, find as many drop-in games or stick-and-puck times as possible at your local hockey rink. This extra time on the ice will allow you to actually work on progressing the skills you set.

Focus on the big picture

When it comes to being an athlete, the exercises that you choose to do in the gym and the skills you decide to practice will allow you to be a better player. However, keep in mind that there is no quick fix to getting yourself tryout ready. Trust the process, stay healthy, and be consistent in your practice.

Wrapping Up

With these sports preparation tips in mind, you are on your way to becoming a well-rounded athlete who is capable of excelling at your next sports tryout. Be confident in your abilities, don’t focus on the negatives (if you mess up, just move on!), and don’t be intimidated by the other players around you.

FAQ — Sports Tryout Preparation Tips

1. Choose which skills to work on
2. Determine a tactical plan
3. Develop a basic workout routine
4. Set aside practice time
5. Look at the big picture

Coaches look beyond skillset when selecting well-rounded players for the team. Actively listen to instructions, avoid arguing, respect others, and follow the rules.

Coaches take into account skillset, attitude, hustle, coachability, and attention to detail.

Mentality is everything. Don’t fixate on the results, whether you will make the team or not, but focus on the process to get there. Rather than thinking about team placement decisions before, during, and after tryouts, focus on practicing drills, actively listening to coaches, and demonstrating sportsmanship.

Coaches are evaluating the following areas in soccer tryouts: • Passing
• Shooting
• Dribbling
• Controlling


Elanne is SkillShark’s marketing aficionado who is equal parts passionate about sports, marketing and sports marketing. She can usually be found with a golf ball or three in her purse, and her favorite way to spend downtime is out on the course with friends and family.