Understanding what coaches look for during football trials

Soccer coaches look for a variety of player qualities, inclusive of both physical and personal characteristics when offering a larger opportunity from the process of football trials.


By Asaph Mwebaze

Now that the football season is coming to a close in Uganda, most soccer coaches are going to conduct trials in hope to recruit new talent . I have met many players asking what coaches are looking for while conducting trials .


Football trials are used across a variety of sporting spheres as a stepping stone for larger opportunities. They can be used as a form of audition for entry into local football teams, academic and sporting schools, football development academies and more.

Regardless of what you want to achieve after the football trial, coaches at the event are often all looking for similar qualities in the footballers.
To help understand how we coaches are impred, I want to outline some of the key attributes football coaches are on the lookout for at football trials.


The first and most obvious quality that a coach will look for is a skill set that matches the aspirations of the subsequent opportunity. While skills in football are important, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to impress a coach.

There’s no question that a coach will notice and be impressed by those footballers that show a natural ability with the ball, but they are on the lookout for a more well-rounded player than those with just a specific skill set.

Potential is a keyword that coaches use when scouting players to pursue a greater outcome.


The ability to adapt to difficult situations and adjust your style of play with little notice is a key quality coaches will look for in players at football trials.

It’s important not to become too complacent, both within a game structure and with your position on the team. It’s common for a coach to make hasty changes within a game plan or team line-up, and your adaptability and acceptance of these changes will be highly valued by a coach.


Ask any coach and they will likely agree that a football team won’t work without effective communication.

Particularly for football teams , footballers have to be able to communicate with both their teammates and their coach. If a tactic isn’t working in a game or training, you need to make it obvious to the coach that you can communicate the problem and voice your solution. Making a play work will only succeed if there is effective communication between footballers and coaches.

Although football coaches may be slightly intimidating and should be treated with respect, proving your ability to converse clearly and have a very open form of communication with them at a football trial could see you stand out from other aspiring players looking for a similar opportunity.


A key quality any aspiring footballer needs to have to succeed is resilience. While football can have extreme highs, the competitive nature of high quality football can also create damaging lows.

With regards to common sporting realities like injuries, periods of low performance, receiving constructive criticism and confronting personal challenges, resilience is an absolute must-have quality in order to reach your full potential as a football player.

Resilience to failure and obstacles in the road are the only ways to become successful, and as the old saying goes; nothing comes easy.

Many professional footballers and sports people who have pursued their passion for sport to a high level have had to overcome difficult challenges along the way and have developed a sense of resilience to these obstacles.

Obstacles don’t have to stop you.


This isn’t necessarily a key quality that a football coach wants in a footballer, but it’s certainly admired.

Some players are natural leaders, while others are happy to be led. It’s not a quality that coaches specifically require in a player, but it is definitely something they value. Being able to clearly identify a leader makes the coach’s job easier when visioning the team dynamic and where a player stands in the potential to take the opportunity to the next level.


One of the most undervalued qualities a coach will look for in a passionate player is their personal character and values beyond their soccer skills. While attributes relating to the sport are extremely important in a coach forming an opinion of a player, character is all too often forgotten in this equation.

Players’ attitude, ability to take constructive criticism, being realistic about your skill standing and listening to people are all key things a coach will value in your character and absolutely take into consideration in your progression towards the final outcome that the trial leads towards.

Soccer coaches look for a variety of player qualities, inclusive of both physical and personal characteristics when offering a larger opportunity from the process of football trials.

The writer is a football coach in Uganda.