On Trial

So you’ve decided to try out for an Ultimate team. Maybe it’s for one of the GB squads, or maybe it’s for a local team. Exciting! Now what?

As the number of Ultimate players is ever-increasing, it may not be feasible or practical for coaches or captains to trial every interested player. Many teams have online application with questions to fill out. Not everyone will be invited to the actual trials. How do you make sure you’re given a chance to show what you’ve got on the pitch?

There are also numerous teams (club and country) that invite everyone who applies to trial. Many of these teams still use written application in the first instance to help get and idea of the different types of players trying out, and allow them to balance teams in a trial session and see what split there is within handlers and cutters, and so on.

Here’s some advice from GB captains and managers on getting past that first stage of applications!

Don’t cut yourself before you turn up

Jon Pugh, the coach for GB U23 Women, says he has this exchange with at least three players every year:

“Why didn’t you come to trials?”

“I didn’t think I’d get in.”

Trials are an opportunity to learn and challenge yourself, whether or not you make the team. Jon likes to encourage all the players that attend U23 trials to trial for their local clubs and make sure they get on a Tour team.

“Most people have much better odds of getting onto a GB team than, say, winning the lottery, but they still buy a ticket!” Jon says.

Don’t wait to be tapped up

Captains want to see players who are keen to play, which means you need to show a bit of initiative. “Don’t wait to be asked - or worse, get grumpy about not being asked,” says Rob McGowan, Manager of GB Masters. “Playing for GB is a privilege and should be treated as such. A big part of selection is enthusiasm for the role. The best way to demonstrate that in the early phases is to reach out to those running the team and asked to be included in plans.”

Captains and managers are pretty busy people, and may not know you’re eligible, or may not have your email address. Help them out by putting yourself forwards.

Own your strengths…

There is a time and place for modesty, but not when applying for an elite team. The section for describing your strengths is about highlighting what you feel you can bring on and off pitch, says Katharine “KJ” Boardman-Hims, Manager of GB Womens Masters. “Don’t think of it as boasting but demonstrating what your contribution could be to the team as a whole.” Off pitch contributions such as sideline, work ethic and commitment to the team can be just as important as your skills and ability.

But be honest about your weaknesses!

If the application form asks you what your weaknesses are, “don’t say I have no weaknesses,” says Jenna Thompson, GB Women’s Manager. “Everyone has issues that need work. Putting down your weaknesses shows you’re aware of what you can improve and your willingness to learn. It’s important that people put themselves forward and see trials as a challenge and a fantastic opportunity to learn and improve their Ultimate.”

Show a willingness to learn

A trial isn’t just an opportunity to demonstrate your ability. It’s also an opportunity to learn. This is true even if you’ve played for a GB squad in the past. Showing a willingness to learn says a lot about attitude.

“The best trialists are those who show an eagerness to fit into a system, as opposed to trying to highlight their individual strengths,” says Justin Foord, GB open. “Show a willingness to learn and take on board feedback, and selectors will favour you over a superstar who doesn’t listen.”

Good Luck!

Mara Alperin