Fri 6th Jul 2018 - 05:28pm
Written by Michael Robson
Reading time
6mins
Young soccer player kicking a flaming football

For many aspiring football players – and young strikers in particular – the New South Wales PL1 football rep trials can be a stressful time. As a dedicated striker, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into training sessions and games last season, and with trials just around the corner, you might be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders.

It’s normal to feel pressure before rep trials. After all, 30 to 40 people are competing for just 16 spots across the board. And, of those 16 spots, many places have already been filled long before the trials even start. It’s a highly competitive environment, and you can’t be blamed for feeling anxious. But, it’s how you use that internal pressure to prepare for the trials, that can make it either your best friend or worst enemy.

There’s much you can do to prepare for and shine at the NSW PL1 football rep trials, to ensure you perform at your best.

 

Tip 1: Do your research!

Typically, you’ll find that if a team won last year’s competition, the coach wouldn’t want to let go of a lot of his star players. So, there will be fewer spots up for grabs for this year’s season. Take last year’s season results, for instance.

Top half of EPL1 Table

Spend some time looking at these results. The table above is a precious source of information. From this graph we can see that The Blacktown Spartan’s had an issue scoring goals, they only scored 18 goals for the entire season, making them the lowest-scoring team of 2019. This indicates that the coach will probably be looking at other options for a striker and attackers for the next season

On the flip side, Hakoah Sydney City East FC took home the most goals at 66 for the season, with Sydney FC coming in at a very close second with 63 goals in total. Neither side will be looking for a striker.

As a striker looking to be selected, this table should tell you where to focus your efforts.

Understand each selectors philosophy and what it is they’re looking for. Often the same team will share the same philosophy throughout their entire club, from U9s all the way to first grade. Keep an eye on their most advanced teams and the strikers who play for them to gauge the style of striker they want in your age group.

For many aspiring football players – and young strikers in particular – the New South Wales PL1 football rep trials can be a stressful time. As a dedicated striker, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into training sessions and games last season, and with trials just around the corner, you might be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders.

It’s normal to feel pressure before rep trials. After all, 30 to 40 people are competing for just 16 spots across the board. And, of those 16 spots, many places have already been filled long before the trials even start. It’s a highly competitive environment, and you can’t be blamed for feeling anxious. But, it’s how you use that internal pressure to prepare for the trials, that can make it either your best friend or worst enemy.

There’s much you can do to prepare for and shine at the NSW PL1 football rep trials, to ensure you perform at your best.

 

Tip 1: Do your research!

Typically, you’ll find that if a team won last year’s competition, the coach wouldn’t want to let go of a lot of his star players. So, there will be fewer spots up for grabs for this year’s season. Take last year’s season results, for instance.

Research options

So, before trials begin, do your research. Look at the online resources you have at your disposal and work out what it is this information is telling you.

 

Tip 2: stay fit, actively recover and take time to relax

 The 2019 season might be over, but if you want to ensure you’re selected for next season, the off-season is not a time to get too stuck into the video games. But, as much as it’s crucial to pay attention to your fitness during this time, it’s just as important to take a break. You’ve had a long season, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Training in the off-season can be a simple as kicking the ball around your backyard or meeting up with your football mates to practice at your local football field after school. Keep practicing your touch; if your touch lets you down, the selectors will notice. If your technique and fitness go astray, your passing will become sloppy, and you’ll struggle to keep up. Anything helps, so use the time you have, away from the distraction of games and training sessions to perfect and learn new and creative moves. 

Use this time to try something new; mix things up a bit by trying different sports like rowing, jogging or swimming. Having a break from football in the off-season may just re-invigorate your passion for the sport itself. And, don’t forget that your muscles grow with rest, so whatever activity you choose to do, active recovery is critical to increasing your fitness.

 

Tip 3: Be different 

You already know that being creative during play makes you stand out, so do moves and show skills that set you apart from the strikers you’re up against.

Some techniques you can perfect before trials include:

  • Try doing a scoop to set up a creative play just outside the 18-yard box.
  • Keep it simple but keep busy: Always check towards the ball when receiving, try to play the simple ball with minimal touches and be sure to quickly take up a position to receive the ball again.
Chip the keeper
  • Try a chip to beat the goalkeeper. 
1-2 moves
  • Do a 1-2 or a 3-4
  • Be ambitious and don’t be afraid to have shots on goal!
  • Work out who is the weakest player and make an effort to play against them.
  • If you find yourself in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, try using a double outside cut to beat them. It’s a move the keeper won’t expect, especially when the focus is on him or her to save that ball from hitting the net.
  • Be comfortable in communicating with your team; call for the ball when you need to. 

Don’t come home from trials and wonder what you could have done more of or differently. Come back from trials comfortable and confident with your performance and how you conducted your play in the short time you had to prove yourself to the selectors.

 

Tip 3: Stand out from the crowd – before, during and after trials 

Football is your passion, and it’s a sport you want to play for the rest of your life. So, it's normal for the rep trials to feel like you're going to a job interview. Selectors don’t just pay attention to how well you kick a ball. They see the potential in team players and in those who want to better their skills.

So how would you showcase yourself during the most critical time of your year?

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be there early and stay late.
Free kick shots
  • Take four balls and go onto the field 30 minutes before the trial begins. Beckham was well-known for his innate free-kick taking ability during important games, which tells you that practice makes perfect and the people noticed. Some moves you can practice include:
  • Taking some free kick shots before and after the trial and practise this regularly for a few weeks before the trials, so you’re on your game when all eyes are on you at the trial.
  • Practice chipping an imaginary keeper from both sides of the field.
  • Go up and introduce yourself to the coach – SMILE, shake hands and don’t forget to look them in the eye.
  • When the coach is giving instructions, be sure to watch and listen; don’t juggle the ball or get distracted. Remember, you’re being assessed on how well you react to instructions and how well you learn and take feedback. So, be attentive and concentrate when they’re giving you directions.
  • If you are standing around and waiting for something to do, practice juggling the ball (but be sure not to over practice and lose your concentration).
  • Keep some energy for the last ten minutes when everyone tires – this is the time to shine! Not only do you have an advantage against your opponents, but you’ll stay in the minds of the selectors.
  • At the end of the session, approach the coach, SMILE, thank them and shake their hand. Be a good sport.
  • If you get the opportunity to do so, help pack up the gear after the trials have finished.

 

Tip 4: Focus on your play 

Don’t get distracted by important selectors watching you on the sidelines. Not only does this take your focus away from the play, but it can make you appear insecure and that you may not be able to withstand the stress that comes during crucial moments of the game. What will happen when you lock eyes with a selector when you have the ball? Most likely, you’ll lose focus and make a mistake, and because you’ve drawn attention to yourself, the selector will know about it.

It’s well known among the selecting circle that making eye contact with the bench earns players a red cross on their evaluation checklist. So, be focused on your play at all times!

Check out this video of what coaches look for in England. 

Soccer player having Fun

Tip 4: Just relax and have fun!

Above everything else, remember to have fun and relax. It’s normal to be anxious and nervous before rep trials; you’re not the only one. Take time before the trials to make a game plan of what moves you’re going to make and how you’re going to play the ball. Preparation helps take the stress out of the unknown, making you feel more focused and in tune. Be sure to tick these moves off in your head as you go! You have to remember to enjoy the experience and hopefully, learn a little more for next time.

Don’t forget to play with a smile on your face! After all, you get to play the game you love with kids who share the same passion as you. Be enthusiastic and work as hard as you can for your team. If you make a mistake, make the effort to try to rectify it (put in a huge effort to win the ball back – this will impress the coach maybe more that the fact that you lost the ball in the first place) and make it as difficult as you can for your opponent to gain possession of the ball.

Soccer enjoyment

Want to improve your football game even further?

At Golden Boot Striker Academy, we provide tailored football training to help strikers and attackers improve their touch, skills, accuracy and confidence. Our soccer training program has been developed for males and females of all abilities, ages 10 and up. Contact us for more information about our soccer training programs.

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