Part 2 – How to succeed at sporting trials

Part 2 – How to succeed at sporting trials.


I hope you found last weeks tips on how to succeed at sporting trials useful. I’ve had some great feedback and would love to hear some of your success stories.

So here goes, the remainder of the top tips for successful sporting trials:

6. The Magic 3 – Think about when you play a good game and ask yourself ‘what 3 things did I do in that game that made me play well?’ The answer may be something like:

  • I tackled really hard (AFL)
  • I presented for ‘one two’ passes (soccer)
  • I drove into the key (basketball)

These actions become your Magic 3, and by doing them you take away the thing that characterizes inconsistent players– hope. Inconsistent players hope to play well, hope the ball comes their way or hope the opposition is poor. Consistent players don’t hope, they pick 3 things within their control then go out and do them.

  1. Mistakes are necessary. Mistakes will happen and importantly ‘should’ happen if you are trying your hardest. It’s what you do after a mistake happens that counts the most. Never verbally apologize for a mistake; coaches don’t want to hear that. They want to see you get straight to the front of the line and go again; to push really hard to win the ball back and display an inner fire that shows you are desperate to make amends.
  1. “Look like a footballer” – The first piece of advice my dad gave me was that ‘if you’re going to be a footballer at least look like one’. It’s still sound advice 40 years later. If it’s a football trial wear football attire. If it’s a soccer trail wear soccer attire. Wearing footy shorts to basketball trials shows that you may not be totally immersed in your sport. Coaches want players who take their sport seriously and looking the part signals to the coach that you’re serious.
  1. Work hard – I am amazed at how some kids can walk off the pitch after a trial and look as fresh as a daisy. It’s a sure sign they haven’t worked hard enough and if I noticed, the selectors would too. It doesn’t take any skill to work really hard and do the little things right. It just takes a concentration. Do the little things like running all the way from one cone to the other instead of pulling up short, and during partner drills, work just as hard as you would if your partner was the actual coach. Don’t go easier because you think they aren’t watching. Never slow down towards the end of the drill because you are a bit puffed. You will get a rest and a drink – keep on working flat out until you do.
  1. Sprint – there are a lot of lazy selectors out there who get blinded by athleticism. Speed is easy to observe, whilst game sense is harder to identify. By actually sprinting during training and drills you will catch the selectors eye more so than jogging. Even if you aren’t naturally quick you can look quick by sprinting when others are only going 90%. It may keep you around long enough for selectors to eventually notice your game intelligence. Then you will be known as the complete package.

Finally the best way to get ahead is to have done the background work. If you haven’t practiced for hours, honed your skills or been sufficiently dedicated then you can’t expect to do well.

Best of luck and remember to ‘be so good they cant ignore you!’

Next week we will look at resilience and how to overcome setbacks. If you don’t want to miss it, please go to my website and find the ‘follow me’ pop up in the bottom right corner.


nathanburke3Nathan Burke is the founder of Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers training and coaching solutions helping people and businesses achieve High Performance.

If you are looking for guidance, support or training to help you find that extra “edge” that can take your performance to the next level, then contact Nathan and enquire how he might be able to assist you.

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