Tryout tips for coaches

Tryout tips for coaches

Tryouts are here. In the next few days or weeks, coaches will begin the journey to build and develop a new team. I emphasize “new” because every year is different. Even teams with a lot of returning players are “new” teams – each player has had another 12 months of life’s experiences to influence his approach to the game.

Tryouts are exciting and nerve-wracking for the player and coach. Coaches are always asking me the best things to do at tryouts. Below are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Be prepared and organized. Players need the coach to take charge!
  2. Have stations for drills. You and your assistant (hopefully you have some help) should have a grading system. Use it during tryouts. Grading the players will help you when it comes time to select the last few players.
  3. Be wary of the “drill expert”. These are the players that can perform the drills like no one else. High grades on the drills are only a part of the equation. Make sure they can PLAY!
  4. Host lots of scrimmages. The best way to tell if someone can play is to watch them in action.
  5. Pay attention to how players treat each other. Try to find those who can play and are good teammates.
  6. Look for effort! As a coach you can teach your players many things. However, effort is not one of them. Lack of maximum effort during tryouts is a major red flag. Keep an eye on how they change from offense to defense. Notice the guys that are sprinting to each drill.
  7. Notice which players are making eye contact while you are talking. It is a little thing that often gets overlooked.
  8. Run them and run them – not for bad performance, but to determine toughness. Make sure you are making a big deal out of the guys who are giving their all! That positive feedback will pay great dividends.

I have been a part of basketball tryouts for over 40 years. Here is a fact: you will know your top 10 percent in a very short period of time. It will take even less time to identify the bottom 10 percent. The hardest part is picking the group in the middle.

Talent should play a part of the equation. Attitude, effort and being a great teammate are essential ingredients in building a great team. Pay attention and make sure you are looking for the COMPLETE player. You and your team will be better off.