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How to Try Out for Canadian Football Teams

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Like most sports leagues, the Canadian Football League doesn't hold general tryout camps on its own. Each of the league's nine teams has its own talent scouts and holds its own tryouts. Most teams hold tryouts in the United States. About half of all CFL players are American.

The nine teams in the Canadian Football League are:

  • BC Lions
  • Edmonton Eskimos
  • Calgary Stampeders
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  • Toronto Argonauts
  • Ottawa Redblacks
  • Montreal Alouettes

Finding CFL Tryouts

When CFL teams schedule tryouts, they usually post the dates and locations on their websites. In 2018, for example, the Edmonton Eskimos scheduled tryouts in Richardson, Texas, for Sept. 22, and in Atlanta, Georgia, for Sept. 23. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2018 tryouts were scheduled for Sept. 22 in Frederica, Delaware, and Sept. 23 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Toronto Argonauts tryouts in 2018 were held in Akron, Ohio, in May.

What to Expect at CFL Tryouts

Before participating in any of the Canadian football tryouts, you have to sign a waiver and pay a nonrefundable registration fee, which is typically $100.

Hopeful players may be rejected because they fall outside the team's height and weight requirements. However, these requirements are not as stringent as they are in the NFL. If you're a wide receiver or a running back and are only 5-foot 6-inches tall, there is no reason you can't play in the CFL, provided you have the skills and athleticism required.

The format of CFL tryouts varies from one team to another and one year to the next. You should expect to perform a variety of exercises to demonstrate your athleticism. These could include, for example:

  • Broad jump: Jumping from one standing position to another tests your lower body explosion ability and strength.
  • Vertical jump: Jumping as high as you can and touching a target flag also demonstrates your lower body explosion and strength.
  • 5-10-5 short shuttle: Starting at a three-point stance, you run 5 yards to one side, then 10 yards to the other side before returning to your starting point.
  • 3-cone drill: Also called the L-drill, the 3-cone drill tests your ability to change directions quickly. You are required to run around three cones that are placed on the ground in an L-shape.
  • 10, 20 and 40-yard dash: These drills demonstrate your ability to run quickly from a static start.

Attracting a CFL Talent Scout

If you're a talented football player, there's a good chance you will attract pro football scouts by playing well for a college team. It's common knowledge that only a fraction of those who try out for the NFL are offered a contract in that league. That's where the CFL comes in. Players who don't quite make the NFL's cut are often approached by CFL scouts for the chance to play professionally in Canada's smaller and less lucrative market. Many future NFL all-stars have gotten their start by first playing professionally north of the border.


A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has been a hiring manager and recruiter for several companies and advises small businesses on technology. He has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles on careers and small business trends for newspapers, magazines and online publications including, Re/Max and American Express.

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