Picture creds to: ‘Pro Basketball Training’

Oh yes, I remember the feeling. The fall temperatures start to drop into more of a wintry climate. During breaks in school, all of your peers can’t help but cause chatter about it. Sometimes, it’s hard to gain adequate hours of sleep due to it being on your mind. Once the first day officially gets here, butterflies take over in your stomach. It all serves to prove the time has come for one of the most anticipated happenings in high school basketball: TRYOUTS.

Any player can say he or she has sacrificed necessary countless hours into the gym, weight room, track/treadmill, and all else for this moment. I don’t doubt that proper preparation takes place in the heavy offseason…especially nowadays with all of the prevalent activities one could choose. Still, anxiousness isn’t quite ever out of the norm once those few days of fighting to make a team arrive. This happens more so for newcomers, as I’m guessing not all returners can truly relate. Sometimes, those nervous feelings stem from the wrong reasons. There’s a common misconception amongst participants’ thoughts that pretty much states “I have to show I can score to be good enough to make a spot on the team.”

I’ll just throw it out there right now to assure that’s honestly far from the truth. Over 80% of rosters, from the lowest to the highest of playing levels, contain role players. Scoring always stands out, yes, but there’s so much more that coaches look for. Honestly, it goes beyond common skills…I feel it’s easy for these same tryout members to forget all about the intangibles they can show in hopes of standing out. This stands as somewhat relatable due to the players’ youthfulness but nonetheless serves an importance that we can’t let fly by. Perhaps I could aid in explaining more about these specific tactics to players taking time in reading this, as I’ve made attempts of paying close attention to the process.


Make Your Presence Known Initially

Nothing’s arguably more important than becoming a recognizable face to the coaching staff from the jump. Think of it this way: you have a higher chance of making them keep you in their thoughts by asserting who you are early on. On the first day of tryouts, walking up to shake a coach’s hand and formally introducing yourself works best in this situation. It helps them learn a name of a potential prospect even before drills have taken place. I know, I know, it’s not in everyone’s style to make the first move of starting a conversation. In addition, some may feel concerns of bothering the coaches, who’re trying to focus up for a few days filled of heavy scouting to piece together a roster. Regardless, I’m here to say that a quick greeting doesn’t hurt anyone and it can go a LONG way; trust me.

Talking Proves a Lot More Than You May Think

Showing you can maintain a vocal presence proves conducive to on-court success, I’m sure many have heard this before. However, there’s other smart ways of impressing in the strategy of communication that’s outside of just calling out assignments. Consider making an effort to learn and call out names of other various members within the tryouts. Not something that’s particularly easy, of course, but it indeed showcases quite a few positives. Coaches will likely deem yourself capable of encouragement, selflessness, and picking up on things quickly if you can demonstrate that particular trait relatively fast. Putting alongside other modes of talking in drills and competitive play should fully indicate you have value in sustaining that attribute. I feel confident in saying any coach would undoubtedly cherish it.

Showcase All Versatility

The game has evolved rapidly over time and a greater use of positionless basketball serves as a primary example nowadays. This leads to why I earlier stated that guys need to focus more on areas outside of purely scoring. Think of it this way: do you think most coaches would become more intrigued by a remarkable spot-up shooter or a guard who can make plays in a mass amount of ways both for others and himself? More than often, the latter will win that bet. While preparing for those incoming tryouts, my hope would be these same high school prospects made good use of working to expand their overall repertoire on the scoring end. Then, successful results don’t lead to them as predictable targets. While the three-point shot currently plays a role bigger than it ever has in the past, other skills of court vision, rebounding, footwork near the rim, handling the ball for paint touches, and (especially) defense should draw the attention of coaches who are getting an initial look at you. However, the key is to stay honest in knowing your capabilities and not try to excel at something you haven’t comfortably done before.

Don’t Be Last!

There’s only so much you can control in these tryouts but one specific action involves making sure you don’t end up as the last man in any segment. Standing in line, finishing a sprint, arriving to the gym, whatever the case may be, I absolutely advise anyone reading this to not be last. Some may raise their eyebrows and question if this section’s even really worth discussing but, in some coaches’ eyes, it indeed speaks volumes. Using a sense of urgency in everything throughout tryouts will help players make it known they care about making it past cuts. If I’m a coach evaluating, and I see a player making his way to the sideline in a seriously slow, lackadaisical manner, it wouldn’t leave me too amused. Working your tail off in conditioning and hustling from drill to drill, while paying full attention, represents the kind of focus coaches like to see.

Play YOUR Game

Touching up upon the concluding sentence of ‘Showcase All Versatility listed above, it’s imperative to stay honest in KNOWING your abilities. One could argue this rings just as, if not, more true than the importance of containing solid tools for on-court production. Players, discern what you do best and perform it in the strongest possible ways. Don’t try to start displaying skills that aren’t in your arsenal…those same feelings of pressure can often get in the way of leading to a guy trying to prove something that’s not quite up his alley. Stay true to yourself and your game. If you’re a shooter, move around constantly to get open for looks. If you’re a rebounder, go hard on the glass each possession. Defense also includes itself in this, as I’m sure the phrase, “you are what you can defend,” sounds familiar. Working to neutralize your matchup on the opposite end gives you more of a shot to catch a coach’s eye.

Let Coaches Know You Can Be a Team Guy

So, obviously making a roster spot becomes an individual accomplishment. In tryouts, you can’t help but enter as a bit self-centered due to it being a personal goal. I understand all of that; always have. Nevertheless, a successful roster always needs to have a makeup of unselfishness across the board and coaches will undoubtedly look for such attributes. It goes back to what I mentioned earlier about knowing other players’ names, as giving encouragement and an infectious energy lets others know you can bring an altruistic tone. Take a look at Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. I’m sure many players of all ages view the NBA All-Star guard as one of the favorites to watch due to how he makes everything look so easy. In my eyes, however, one of his most impressive features pertains to his way of knowing how to attain his own success while being unselfish at the same time. This became most apparent for the past two seasons when he had Kevin Durant by his side. If you can act like a Steph Curry-figure in that area, it should make a difference both right now and later in the long run.


One can choose what they want to do with this advice but, if I could only state one certain need that holds the most importance, I’d say this to players: having joy on the court will make you play your best. I can’t think of any true player who’s done their absolute best in tryouts while playing amped up. All former players who’ve been through it at some point will probably acknowledge that it does cause reason for becoming tensed. Making sure to not lose yourself in those few days of being analyzed rests as major component. Sometimes all it takes is a deep breath and a brief reflection beforehand. The game still plays the same way; that won’t ever change regardless of the circumstances. You know how much time you’ve put in gearing up for this moment. So, in the simplest way I can say it, GO GET IT.

Anybody else filled with excitement that another school season’s right around the corner?!