8 Tryout Tips Guaranteed to Get You Noticed (And What To Avoid So You Don't Get Cut)

Do you know exactly what the coach is looking for in tryouts? Do you know everything you need to do?

You may think that you do, but itís highly unlikely.

Actually, what you think would help with tryouts may be the exact reason you get cut from the team. Sad thing is that Iíve seen players like you make these critical mistakes over and over and over again.

Iíve been fortunate to conduct tryouts for youth clubs with over 400 kids. Iíve also been part of high school varsity tryouts with 100 kids for a state championship caliber team at the high school level.

Iím able to give you the critical tips that can help you make the team and avoid those mistakes that get you cut.

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1. Do what you do well.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to impress the coach by doing things that are outside your skill set. This often results in a disaster for you.

If you are a good rebounder, grab every rebound.

If you are a good shooter, shoot when you are open.

If you are a good finisher, attack the basket when a lane is open.

If you are a good ball handler, make the simple passes, the simple moves.

If you are not a good 3-point shooter, donít step out and shoot one during tryouts. Iíve seen kids literally hit the side of the backboard trying to do this.

The coach will instantly think, ďWow. This kid does not know a thing about shot selection. Maybe heís a low IQ kid.Ē

Trust me... with the limited time that a coach can see you... this is not the impression you want to make. Even if you play great the rest of the time, the coach already has impression about you and thatís hard to change.

Here is a good measure... can you make 7 out of 10 shots unguarded from a spot. Maybe 6 out of 10 for youth players. If not, donít take the shot at tryouts.

2. Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!

There is no excuse for any player on this one. You just have to commit and develop that mentality.

When the ball is on the floor, dive on the floor. Box out on every shot. Sprint on the fast break. Sprint to spots on the floor on defense.

Communicate on defense and offense. Be loud and do it often.

These are things that every player can do and every player should do.

This is why you see players who arenít skilled make the team. Theyíre willing to do the little things that make teams good or great.

3. Donít be just one of the guys in the crowd - Make a great first impression.

Here is a great way to make a first impression.

When the coach calls everybody in at the beginning of the first tryout...

Instead of walking out there or jogging out there like every other kid.

Sprint! Sprint directly to the coach and stand right in front of him. Stand tall and keep eye contact on the coach during the entire talk.

I guarantee youíll have the coachís attention. Iíve conducted tryouts. Iíve been in rooms with coaches discussing who to cut. This makes a difference.

Your buddies may give you some crap, but youíll be the one laughing when you make the team or get more playing time than them.

4. Avoid the amazing play mentality. Do something that makes you stand out in a positive way.

This is not what you think. This is not making an amazing play. Remember... do what you do well.

Flashy doesnít impress coaches. It may look cool on the playground, but thatís why you donít see NBA guys doing streetball moves during games. Itís flash. Itís hype. Itís not effective against good players.

You should do something with substance that coaches will notice in a positive way.

Earlier, I mentioned communicate on defense.

One time when I was conducting a tryout for 3rd to 8th graders, we were with the 4th grader session.

All of the sudden, across the gym, I hear a blaring yell ďScreen! Screen! Screen!Ē It was from this little guy named Tommy.

Ten seconds later, I hear Tommy yell again, ďI got ball!Ē

This continued the whole day. He communicated early. He communicated loud. He communicated often. (ELO Ė Early Loud Often. Kevin Eastman would have been proud.)

There may have been 30 other kids communicating in the gym, but he is the only one I remembered. I didnít know him before the tryouts, but I sure know him now. Guess what... he made the first team.

5. Donít be shy Ė Talk to the coaches before tryouts.

Too many make the big mistake of being too shy to talk to the coach. And this can make a huge difference with making the team.

Sometimes, this simple act will elevate you in the eyes of the coaches because they know that you care and youíll do whatever it takes to help the team.

Be specific. Tell the coach that you really want to make the team. Ask them what they need on their team.

6. Be a great teammate Ė Great attitude and sportsmanship

Every coach wants a player who is a great teammate and makes the players better around them.

You can do this by...

  • Being a great practice player and challenging your teammates during practice to make the team better.

  • By putting everybody in a better mood with your positive attitude. Letís face it... weíre all humans and itís more enjoyable to have a little fun in life. Nobody wants to be around a person with a poor attitude.

  • Display great sportsmanship. When a coach sees you helping players off the floor and playing hard but clean basketball, they know that they can count on you not to lose your cool and hurt your team in a negative way at an important time.

7. Get there early / warm up properly.

Getting there early shows the coach that you care and that he can depend on you to show up on time to practices and games.

Also, make sure to warm up prior to playing, so you are playing your best as soon as the whistle blows. First impressions are very important.

8. Who cares if you screw up Ė Next play!

If you make a mistake... oh well, it happens. Everybody makes mistakes.

Always go on to the next play.

The best players react in a positive way to those mistakes and donít let them snowball into a bunch of mistakes.

There are no guarantees in life. However, if you use the tips mentioned above, you will dramatically increase your chances to make the team and earning more playing time.

If you are serious about becoming a better player, we offer Basketball Camps throughout the country during the spring, summer, and fall.

To check out the different camps, Click Here.

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What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Bob says:
10/4/2019 at 10:18:53 PM

lol didnt make 8th grade team then read this then made high school team as freshman everyone like wtf he was garbage last year


Rudolph says:
9/27/2019 at 12:20:50 PM

"helping players get off the floor" - only if they are your teammates. Is it not your obligation to do this for the opposition. It is not ''unsportsmanship''. By doing so deprives the opposing team the opportunity to engage in team solidarity.


Sidney J says:
9/5/2019 at 5:26:40 AM

I’m a point /shooting guard I am a girl I am 5 ft even .I played for Michigan state junior girls basketball team with minimum 38 points per game (full game) but I was shoved on my right leg tore my muscle and a blood clot developed in the middle of the tear.

I had to stop mid season to heal.but ik I’m gonna make the team . I’m jus scared for everyone else.btw I am healed now.


Jeff says:
8/20/2019 at 4:35:58 PM

Sounds like a personal problem


Braeden says:
10/20/2018 at 3:50:37 PM

Hey i'm trying out for my Varsity team at school. Last year i was the last guy cut, this off season i worked everyday on my skills and even mad the summer competitive team which the same coach coaches. All the returning players say i should make it but im not sure. even though i work harder than anyone at the trouts i still fell like i get jipped again from the team. Any one have any suggetsions how i can help my self?


Naruto says:
10/14/2018 at 1:34:35 PM

We need at least 11 players on the Under 14 Team. And exactly 11 people tried out for the U14 team, so obviously we all got on the team, even sucky basketball players. Lol.


Christian Halsey says:
9/6/2018 at 2:00:11 AM

My high school basketball tryouts are in a month and I will be the shortest kid there. I am a good finisher at the rim, but I was wondering if anyone has any advice as to how to drive to the hoop against taller defenders. Appreciate whatever advice I get. I also loved this article. Hopefully it will help me make the team!!!


Future NBA Legend says:
8/14/2018 at 9:54:03 PM

This helps fuffil my dream to make it to the NBA in a couple years and become the greatest


ethan chong says:
6/21/2018 at 9:09:18 AM

I have been cut from the freshmen year and trying out for my sophomore year I might know the drills the coach will do and the types of games he will play . Do I take the risk and practice on the drills in the freshmen year or do I keep on practice on my strength?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
6/21/2018 at 9:17:13 AM

Generally you want to work on both your strengths and weaknesses that hinder you from helping the team. Ask the coach what you should work on. In addition asking advice from a trainer would not hurt. Good luck!


Anonymous says:
5/1/2018 at 2:13:51 AM

Im a skinny 5’11 kid , my freshman year I made the freshman team at my school , and I absolutely want to be playing varsity, but I don’t know if I have a chance.


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