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.

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.

Recommended DVDís & eBook:

The Attack & Counter Skill Development System
This eBook & DVDís will improve your shooting, ballhandling, footwork, perimeter moves, post moves, finishing, aggressiveness, quickness, confidence, mentality, and your all-around game!

Designed by NBA skills coach Don Kelbick, this unique and comprehensive system is incredibly simple when compared to other skill development programs. Yet it works with NBA and pro players at the highest level... (more info)

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


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olivia says:
11/25/2023 at 10:35:03 AM

I have tryout in a couple day I am worried it I make the team or not and I really want to any advice?


asher says:
11/2/2023 at 9:07:45 PM

I am really worried about my tryout because I''m not the tallest guy out there. what should I focus on

  1 reply  

Brielle says:
11/10/2023 at 1:57:55 AM

Try your absolute hardest. So what if you are not the tallest. Show them what you are the best at and what you have to offer that the rest may not. You got this.


Anish Giri says:
8/9/2023 at 8:54:26 PM



Rishi Reddy says:
5/23/2023 at 8:28:54 PM

I am currently a crazy good player I am trying out for the jv team and I’m 5 9 but I am scared I might have a bad tryout and nothing will fall. What should I do.

  1 reply  

Kevin Durant says:
10/10/2023 at 12:11:17 AM

Hey Rishi,
I totally understand feeling like you'll play badly at tryouts. All you can do is play to your strengths and trust your preparation honestly. Good luck at tryouts.

Kevin Durant


Callen says:
2/16/2023 at 7:17:24 AM

just got cut from a team what I should’ve made as a big man I was efficiently and effectively guarding everyone in the court being loud basically every play scoring and passing efficiently why didn’t I make it?


Rudy Ramirez says:
12/1/2022 at 2:07:19 PM

As a youth coach over the last 20 yrs., I found Coach Haefner's tryout suggestions spot-on.

If I may add one, youth players should try to develop left hand proficiency (or right hand for lefties). Coaches are impressed when a player drives left for an easy left-handed lay-up.

I have one small disagreement - sportsmanship.
Do not help an opponent off the floor. Why, by helping an opponent off the floor you deprive the other team the opportunity to develop team cohesion. Each team member should be responsible for each other. Better sportsmanship - no trash talking.


BallLover says:
11/30/2022 at 11:35:14 PM

I didnt make my sophomore basketball team. It was my first school sport tryout ever so I think i was too inexperienced, emotional, and unconfident in myself. i hope to tryout again for JV next year. wish me luck :D

  1 reply  

Barb says:
12/1/2022 at 6:16:14 AM

We commend you for trying out and it sounds like you understand what you need to work on for tryouts next season. If you would like any additional resources or guidance reach out to us at info@breakthroughbasketball.com

If you have this mentality, you’ll not only be successful in basketball, you’ll be successful in the most important game…



Eli says:
5/10/2022 at 9:25:23 PM

I'm trying out for my team and I'm super nervous, it's my first basketball tryout. Any tips to not be nervous, it's a week away and I'm freaking out.


Teresa says:
3/15/2022 at 8:55:43 PM

I''m going to be a senior and I will probably try it for my highschool team, I haven''t played basketball for about 4-5 years, since I was in 7th grade. I''m getting back my shot but working on my form

  1 reply  

Vicki Olsen says:
3/16/2022 at 2:33:16 PM

Good for you, Teresa! It sounds like you're working towards your goal already. When are tryouts?

I would suggest getting into leagues or camps to work on skills...and to just get back in the swing of playing.

Besides skills, you might want to do some strength and conditioning if you haven't been playing any other sports for awhile. Just make sure to use a program that progresses at a healthy rate so there's less risk of injury.

I would also suggest finding out what your team needs. Maybe you've been watching them this year, or you know the coach well enough to ask, but if you could fill a role on the team, then your chances of making the team improve. Maybe they need a defensive player, maybe they need a strong rebounder, maybe they need someone who talks/communicates...work extra hard at that (in addition to improving your all-around skills & shooting, like you said you were).

I truly hope it all works out for you! Would love to hear how try-outs go!

I can point you towards specific articles/resources if you want - just reply here or email & we'll get you some things!

~Vicki Olsen


B ball player says:
3/14/2022 at 9:41:10 AM

About to go to high school and planning to try out for the jv team. Any workout tips so I can get better at basketball and get physically fit.

  1 reply  

Vicki Olsen says:
3/15/2022 at 5:02:46 PM

That's exciting! And I'm glad you're making a plan to work towards achieving your goal of making the JV team. As far as workouts, you'll want to find one that goes at a healthy pace so that you don't get any injuries.

We emailed you a couple of resources (we can't link in the comments section right now).

Good luck and let us know if you have more questions - and how tryouts go!

~Vicki Olsen


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