First impressions have a huge impact within the elite levels of any sport. Whether you are trying out for a team, starting your college career, or trying to get a contract as a professional athlete, your first impression on team sport will last with high level coaches. The best teams work well together as a unit on offense AND defense, and great coaches are looking for players to contribute to the team's success. Here are five ways to leave a lasting impression on any coach:
1. Technical Abilities:
At the highest levels, coaches will not give you a second look if you do not showcase promising technical abilities. You need to be able to get yourself out of tight spaces with pressure on you. Fancy moves are not necessary to be considered a technical player, you simply need to have the necessary footwork (or handwork based on your sport) to keep the ball under pressure, use both feet or hands, and pass the ball multiple ways effectively. In college and club, you can get away with having less technical abilities as long as speed, strength, or intelligence counteract this. At the professional level, you must be a technical player.
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A high IQ of your sport is a necessary skill to leave a better impression on coaches compared to your competition. The only ways to improve your intelligence within any given sport is to watch film/games on yourself and professional athletes, ask questions, and play small sided or full-sided games as much as possible. This will increase your IQ and awareness.
3. Work Ethic
You might be the best attacking player, but real work ethic is shown on defense and during transitions. To leave a lasting impression on a coach, you must work your a$$ off on defense, because no coach likes a player who only works hard on offense. If you lose possession, win the ball back as soon as possible. If you can't win the ball back, use your intelligence and awareness to find the best position on the field or court to form a net with your teammates. When the time comes to put the opposition under pressure, give it everything you have and encourage (or yell at!!) your teammates to join the press. Nothing looks more impressive to a coach than a player who puts their everything into winning the ball. BUT beware!! You have to defend intelligently and do NOT leave gaps when putting pressure on the ball.
The best center backs, centers, or any last defender on a team has exceptional communication skills. Sometimes these players are not the most talented or athletic, but they know how to organize a team into success. Coaches are constantly looking for players who NEVER stop talking on the field or court. On defense, you should be telling teammates where the opposition is, which direction to move in, when to step to the ball, etc. On offense, tell your teammates where to play the ball next, if they have a man on their back, which space to attack, where you want the ball played/passed to. Communication is a learned skill, almost like any technical ability. The more you do it, the better you will become!
5. Ask Questions!
It is simply human behavior to remember players you form a connection with and who gain your respect. Coaches love to give feedback to players, and you will learn so much from asking multiple coaches question because everyone has different opinions and different aspects of expertise. Asking questions is a win-win!
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