21 Oct 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.
- Be prepared and organized. Players need the coach to take charge!
- 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.
- 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!
- Host lots of scrimmages. The best way to tell if someone can play is to watch them in action.
- Pay attention to how players treat each other. Try to find those who can play and are good teammates.
- 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.
- Notice which players are making eye contact while you are talking. It is a little thing that often gets overlooked.
- 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.