Basketball Tips - Tryouts, how to make the team...

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

I'm the coach and you are a player trying to make my team. So how do you impress me with your skills, and what is it that I am looking for in try-outs?

The things I look for are solid fundamentals... don't be flashy. I like kids who play tough defense, hustle after loose balls, play aggressively (but not dirty). I love kids who box out and rebound. I like kids who are good passers, and avoid turnovers. I like team players. Don't try to impress me by dribbling between your legs.

Be the first one arriving for practice and the last one to leave. Show me work ethic. Hustle hard and compete in every drill and game. Show respect for the coaches and the other players. Ask the coaches to help you with your weaknesses. We all like to practice the things we are already good at. You get better by working on your weaknesses.

Are you a tall inside player? If so, impress me with your rebounding, defense, and some post up moves. Example: a drop-step baseline move (see How to Become a Good Post Player)

If you are a guard, show me you can handle the ball and keep under control. If you can shoot the "3", fire some up during shoot-arounds. I like a perimeter player who can shoot the outside shot, but can also drive to the hoop, can see the whole floor and pass, and can handle the ball well. Show me your outside moves (see Guard Moves and Skills).

Show me your leadership skills on and off the court. And show me your basketball IQ... are you a "gamer"?


Work on your skills at home, or at the nearby playground in the summer (off-season). Work on the correct things, not just the things you are already good at (see Practicing in the Off-Season).

Be physically "in-shape" (conditioning) when you arrive at try-outs. Get a good night's sleep before try-outs.

During tryouts, don't be intimidated by better players, or players who made the team last year. There will always be a few players at try-outs who are better players and who you know will make the team. But you too can be an important part of the team to as a "role player".

Remember that hard work, hustle and a good attitude will impress the coach, even if your shooting is off that week.

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