How to prepare for sports tryouts

While we’re closing in on peak summer vacation time, some athletes are already preparing for fall sports and team tryouts. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you hope to make the team.

Shirtless man tosses a soccer ball in the air to bounce off his head.

Train your body.

This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t mean that you need to only play the sport for which you’re trying out. Certified strength and conditioning coach Mark Salandra advises athletes to think about what skills might be tested during the tryout beyond sports-specific movements. “Strength training and agility training are great ways to prepare your body for any type of tryout,” says Mark, the founder of (one of Physiquality’s partner programs).

Female athlete settles into a starting position on a track as another woman prepares a stopwatch to time her.

The experts at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy suggest mixing up your pre-tryout routine. If your sport includes a lot of running, as with football or soccer, consider doing timed sprints or even some mid- to long-distance running. If you’re trying out for tennis, play some football with friends. This cross-training will help to strengthen your body in many different ways. And remember that the stronger you are, the more endurance you’ll have during tryouts — and the less likely you’ll be to have an injury, either during the tryout or your sport’s season, Mark adds.

Focus your mind and be prepared.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy reminds athletes to make sure they know what they need to do BEFORE the tryout. Print and complete forms a week or two ahead of time, to make sure you can get parents to sign applications or have a physical if it’s required. Know the schedule, so that you’re not running late the day of the tryout, which will stress you out and convey to the coaches that you’re not prepared.

Close up photograph of a woman meditating on a mat; only her left hand and knee, and right foot, can be seen, along with part of her mat.

Mark cautions athletes against overthinking the tryout, but he notes that thinking about what might be asked at the tryout can help to calm nerves while competing. He explains, “Understanding the rules of what is going to be asked of you will make the tryout process less stressful.” It’s also important to be mentally present during the tryout — listen to instructions and follow through as directed. Neither coaches nor players want a teammate that can’t do these things.

Stay healthy and rest.

The month before a team tryout is not the time to try a new crash diet or to train several hours every day. Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy reminds athletes to eat balanced meals and get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Allow yourself to have fun with friends rather than only focusing on how the tryouts will go, and stay positive about your chances when the tryouts come.

Photograph of fresh fruits and vegetables against a white background.

Mark notes that more is not better when it comes to training; in fact, he adds, the more rested you are, the better you’ll perform. “It is only after your workout, when you are resting and replenishing your body with protein and other nutrients, when the body heals and gets stronger. This is why I live by the motto, ‘Train hard, but rest harder,’” he says.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your strength and agility, some PTs offer such programs at their clinics. To find one near you, use our locator below to search for a Physiquality clinic in your neighborhood.

Thank you to our contributors:

Mark Salandra, CSCS, is the founder of, one of Physiquality’s partner programs. Mark educates and trains athletes young and old in strength and conditioning, with the goals of better fitness and lower rates of injury.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a Physiquality member with several clinic locations in Arizona. Providers of physical therapy for more than 15 years, their PTs and PTAs deliver hands-on physical therapy with integrity and accountability, ensuring the best possible patient results.

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