Tips for high school tryouts

How to ‘wow’ at high school tryouts

The high school basketball season is fast approaching. Coaches are becoming anxious about the upcoming season, and players are hitting the gyms in the afternoon for open gym play. I am coaching and helping a small group of players prepare for the season through the Pro Skills Basketball (PSB) organization. Brendan Winters and Logan Kosmalski have done a great job of building a program that focuses on individual skill development within the team concept.

The current group of young men I am coaching are ninth and 10th graders. They are working hard to prepare for their school’s tryouts in the coming weeks. Almost every week one of them ask the question: “What should I be working on?” A previous blog, “Little Things Matter” is a message that will help players and coaches during this tryout season.

Today’s message is one that emphasizes the importance of effort and being in “basketball shape.”

Most coaches will tell you privately that they have no problem picking out the top 10 percent of the players trying out. Nor do they have a problem identifying the bottom 10 percent! It is the middle group (80 percent) that makes the selection process so difficult. Unfortunately, usually 90 percent of the players believe they are in the top 10 percent!


Most players believe they are giving maximum effort… Until they see the film. As the old coach used to say, “The film does not lie!” Tryouts are not the time to play “cool.” Cool does not work for the 80 percent in the middle. Sprinting to each drill is a must. Sprinting to offense and defense during scrimmages is also a key to getting noticed in a positive light. I try to get players to understand that the first two steps are the key to beating your man down the court. Turn and sprint to the other end of the floor, and you will quickly become a coach’s favorite.

“Basketball shape”

Basketball is a game of changing speeds and short bursts of energy. I see too many players today who are not in “basketball shape.” I understand the importance of increasing body strength by lifting weights before or after school; however, players should spend more time preparing for basketball conditioning. Sprinting short distances and quick direction changes are areas that need focus. The coach needs to see players who can withstand the rigors of a fast-paced transition game.

Get in the gym and run the dreaded suicides. Make sure you are timing each sprint. And if you really want to move to the top 10 percent, dribble the basketball during each sprint. You will become a better ball handler while getting in better basketball shape!