Tryouts, Part 2 of 3: What Can You Do to Make the Team?

Every year, young athletes get excited for tryouts. And every year, plenty of kids get cut. As a coach, it is emotionally one of the hardest things to do. As a player, there are things you can do to stand out to better your chances of making a team. This will be a 3-part series about tryouts: Week 1: Common Assumptions Regarding Tryouts Week 2: How to Stand Out During Tryouts: What Coaches Look For Week 3: What to Do If You Get Cut


All coaches have different preferences when it comes to evaluating players. However, here are 4 general things that every coach would see as valuable (in no order).

1. Be a good teammate

Not too many things are more cancerous to a team than bad teammates. Work together with the other players during drills. Encourage your teammates rather than boss them around or criticize them for making mistakes. Fit in to your role on the team; don’t try and do things on the court that you are not capable of doing.

2. Be coachable

This does not mean you need to be the labeled as the coaches pet. Being coachable means following directions, taking corrections and applying them in drills/scrimmages, and putting the coaches vision of the team into practice on the floor. Do not try and show the coach how great you are at basketball by taking matters into your own hands. It will most likely not work out for you.

3. Make shots

Obviously, right? Notice it did not say “take shots.” Anybody can jack up fadeaways and reverse lay-ins. Can you consistently knock down an open jumper? Having the ability to shoot the ball consistently in a game situation will make you real hard to cut from the team, even if you are slow and can’t dribble. Let’s face it, most high school varsity teams have no more than two kids who are consistent in making open jumpers.

4. Understand the game (have a “feel” for the game)

This ties closely with being coachable, but sometimes the most coachable players still have no understanding or feel for the game. Do you know how to reverse the ball? Do you know the difference between a bad shot and a good shot? What is the first thing you do when you catch the ball, dribble or square up? If you have too many negative habits that demonstrate a poor feel for the game, you will definitely stand out, and not in a good way.