My experiences of professional football trials have been hard fought to say the least. From two hour trial in the middle of rural Scotland in February to meeting a club chairman aboard a hovercraft to Belgium and much more inbetween. Although I had a great goal-scoring record and an appetite for the game I never made it big. What I did have however were plenty of opportunities to do so. I had dozens of trials, numerous scouts watching me and extended stays at clubs. This is less of how to impress at a trial, something I never did, but how to get one in the first place.
The first thing is you must have some ability and stand out at the level you are playing at. There are dozens of people wanting to take money for you either as “agents” or soccer trial/academy days. I have never known anyone personally to have success with either of these options. All of the people I have known to have become professional have succeeded from networking. Either they know someone, or a member of their family does, or in my case I attended every league meeting, conference, lecture or coaching session I could. Eventually this paid off and I was offered a trial by Cambridge United after talking to one of the coaches. This led to further trials at other clubs after recommendations and name dropping. However by far the most successful way I found of securing a trial was to write to clubs. This would translate to email in this day and age, however I suspect a letter would hold some novelty value. I wrote to every club in the top 3 divisions of every league in Europe. The postage cost was horrendous, however I probably received dozen or so “yes, come and have a trail at your own expense” letters in reply. No way could I afford to go to all of them so I had to pick the best couple to go to. I didn’t choose the biggest teams, but the teams which I felt may have less competition for places. This was Lokeren in Belgium and Willem II in Holland. I must admit the language barrier was more of a problem in rural Belgium and at both trials I found the training much more tactical than I was used to. Both were successful with offers of short term contracts.
After returning I used these clubs as a reference and attached a report they had written for me to send to other clubs, again resulting in more trials. So my advice is not to give up, get references, reports or quotes from clubs and use them to your advantage.