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.

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Ken Sartini says:
10/15/2014 at 11:35:45 AM

Great thoughts Joe!

Seems like a lot of players have asked this question about making a team..

Want to really make the team? Look at #s 1&2.... read them a couple of times and make sure that you are doing this all the time.

Not that the rest aren't important.... because they are..... buit you want to stand out above the rest.... good luck.

  2 replies  

Bill says:
3/24/2017 at 2:40:45 PM

Don't talk to the coaches before


Bill says:
3/24/2017 at 2:42:28 PM

Don't talk to the coaches before

  1 reply  

Bill says:
3/24/2017 at 2:46:47 PM

(Prevents spam) HA!



Jk just do your best they'll do the rest and play until your knees all wrought


Just do one thing that makes you stand out ( it doesn't have to be good ) then the coaches will remember you.



Michael Jewell says:
10/15/2014 at 12:40:13 PM

Very good points! I would also emphasize to be agressive under control.
Do the little things! Take a charge, block out, help on defense, set good screens and make good cuts (move without the ball) etc. these are a lot if things I have looked at over 25+ years of coaching at all levels From HS varsity and below.


Ed says:
10/15/2014 at 1:26:36 PM

great points.

I often tell players what separates good players from bad ones is how well the former is able to consistently play to their strengths and vice versa for the latter. Players tend to look horrible when they're attempting things outside of their skill set, so number one is always a great indicator for me as to how high a player's basketball IQ might be.


grace says:
11/10/2015 at 10:56:35 PM

Oh, this is cool, This year i tried to play basketball and it was my very first year, I got screw up all the time and I feel stupid and I feel bad, and I didn't get in the team, I was so disappointed.
I hope I can get to practice so next year i can make it, i hope because i really like basketball.


Millenium says:
11/18/2015 at 6:59:33 AM

I did great on the 4 days of tryouts I had I was I was either first or second third and then you give us an extra day to try out I did well also because cuts were made that day. The coach told me to come back and practice with the team at the practice I never missed a layup, I was first on every sprint but once and I was there early but I was cut shortly after practice just because of 11 graders that tried out on varsity didn't make it but now have a spot on jv

  1 reply  

Brooke says:
10/17/2016 at 5:34:53 PM

That is great


lol says:
12/1/2015 at 6:17:07 PM



Hi says:
1/14/2016 at 8:44:04 PM

I hope i make my jr team im in grade 6


Mountain DEW says:
1/19/2016 at 9:52:04 PM

I think I got screwed I tried out with 6 foot dudes I am 5 foot 3 one person had a broken wrist and didn't do anything and two threw up from the running and 4 people had garunteed spots

  1 reply  

Jamari says:
12/18/2016 at 6:51:55 PM

No excuses!


Tom Kennedy says:
1/31/2016 at 7:34:08 PM

I am trying out next year but have no interest in basketball I''m doing it for my friend

  2 replies  

error404userunkown says:
10/28/2016 at 4:57:59 PM

then don't try out


tyler says:
1/6/2017 at 2:03:31 PM

recently i was cut from my high school basketball team because of an injury i had in my neck which i couldn't move my neck!! they cut me because i missed practice because of injury and next year i really wanna play but i'm only 5'2 and i'm gonna be a sophomore next year and the coaches dont like me a lot and neither do some of the players almost all of them because of me being small or just annoying cuz i have adhd. any tip please reply thanks so much Joe this hopefully helps next year.

  1 reply  

Christian says:
8/20/2018 at 8:10:03 AM

That sucks dude


Matt indoe says:
2/4/2016 at 3:11:01 AM

Oh my gosh this helps I''''m a junior in high school and im home schooled I''''ve been so stressed out about this because I''''ve never been on a team but I have a college scout looking out for me and j just really want to be on the team and I think they have more than enough guards and I play at guard and I''''m just really nervous... Please tell me I have a chance!

  1 reply  

Cora says:
7/19/2018 at 9:35:11 PM

I have a chance.


ballsac says:
3/1/2016 at 7:41:59 PM

Thats stupid


Jasmine says:
3/13/2016 at 11:47:55 PM

I'm in grade 8 trying out for a mixed football team. I'm super nervous/exited. Last year i got cut from volleyball and im scared its gonna happen again. All my friends love football and are almost garenteed spots. Im afraid ill be left out. This helps.


Deanna says:
9/20/2016 at 10:16:31 PM

thx about the advice it will help me very much thx


Deanna says:
9/21/2016 at 10:57:23 PM



javin ellis says:
9/23/2016 at 9:19:43 AM

Makes lots of sense...hopes this helps me


Tom says:
10/6/2016 at 9:51:20 AM

Thanks for making this post a PDF, but when it is downloaded - it is not the same one!

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
10/6/2016 at 10:43:36 AM

Thanks for heads up. It should be fixed now.


Brooke says:
10/17/2016 at 5:33:34 PM

I am about to tryout and I am very nervous. I really want to make the school basketball team but I have never played on a team before. Please god give me the best luck. Thanks for the tips.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
11/19/2016 at 12:03:26 PM

No problem, Brooke! Good luck!


Quantavius Chachere says:
10/22/2016 at 8:26:58 PM

I am very humble and dedicated to basketball. When im on the court i do me and be myself. I always hustle on every play 110%. I am a junior in High school and believe in myself to make the basketball team JV or V just wanna make the team. The coach knows my name. I went to like every basketball workout and showed him how serious i take it. He see my work ethic. Im just staying patience for This Monday so Wish me Good Luck!!


CT hooper says:
10/26/2016 at 10:24:02 PM

Tonight I had my first tryout of two for a local travel team. Although I had tried out for this team for two years, I had failed to make it both times - with me both being one or two spots away from making it. This off-season, I went to every camp, program, workout, clinic, and practice that this team put on. Not judging myself, but what my coach for the travel team and varsity coach for my high school have been telling me is that i'm A: extremely good, and B: extremely hardworking. However, before tonight, I had felt bad pains in my stomach. Knowing that I had to go out there and give every ounce of strength I had, I went out and played. i felt very slow and sluggish; strange for me because I am very quick and can run the transition very well. Although I can also rely on my jumper, and still am a decent enough ball handler I can sneak past guys, I was able to come up with double digit points in our 20 minute scrimmage on two threes and easy layups, post moves, and sleepy defense where I kind of just slip through. Although I scored well and had a block as well and a steal and i think and assist ( was focusing on getting back on defense), I felt extremely slow and sluggish because I felt sick. Could have played better, but now I don't know how to rank myself among the other 17 or 20 kids that were trying out. I thought I only hustled at about 80% of what I'm capable of because I was sick. When trying to evaluate my self among other kids, does anyone have any tips???

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
11/19/2016 at 12:02:52 PM

Way to work through your illness, CT.

I would ask the coach. He'll tell you where you are and what you need to do. It also is a great way to show that you're serious and coaches like that.


error404userunkown says:
10/28/2016 at 4:58:54 PM

what if your short?

  1 reply  

Sakshi says:
11/19/2016 at 11:20:15 AM

I have been told by my friends that I am short and they doubt that I will make the team. I also have no idea what to do if i am short because i have always wanted to be on the team but my height is discouraging.

  1 reply  

D-red says:
11/28/2016 at 6:02:49 AM

I'm short too and my best advice is to use your height to your advantage, find a different way to shoot and guard.


Naomi says:
11/3/2016 at 4:13:07 PM

I''''m trying out in a few days hope this works thanks for the tips I''''m very nervous:);)

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
11/19/2016 at 12:04:42 PM

Naomi, a little nervousness is good. Play hard and do what you do well. The nerves will subside.


Naomi says:
11/3/2016 at 4:14:49 PM

You are fine I''''m also short I''''m 4 9" don''''t worry I''''m also trying out soon don''''t worry


john says:
11/4/2016 at 1:25:39 PM

hi im currently in junior high,, and im 5'3 , i always play basketball but not in team,, today im gonna try out for our team,,

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
11/19/2016 at 12:00:55 PM

That's great, John! Everybody grows at different rates. No matter the outcome, set some goals, create a plan, and work your butt off.


Jeremiah Charles says:
11/15/2016 at 7:35:44 PM

Hey this is really good and i will totally take your advice and i think 8 is the best i missed a wide open 3 and felt depressed and i saw people talking about me but the coach said walk it off and i made another one and a basket i was so proud and i hope i made the 25 slot list!!!

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
11/19/2016 at 11:59:37 AM

Glad we could help, Jeremiah! All that matters is that you put your maximum effort, do your best, and have a great attitude. Those things will get you very far in life.

Whatever the result is... create a plan and put your next steps into action to continuously improve.

In order to be extraordinary.... you have to do the ordinary things extra often and extra well.


Kevin says:
12/1/2016 at 11:59:38 PM

Okay so what if a young freshman like me did not make the team due to grades being low and an injury I had a couple of days before try outs I know I can make the team because my friends say it was easy and half the team don't know what a pick and roll is . But thing here is I never tried out for a basketball team but I know my skills are good enough to be on the team . Like I'm really upset I did not get to try out due to this stuff and it's really breaking me down in the inside


Brandon says:
12/5/2016 at 7:59:59 PM

I just finished trying out for my high school jv team. I am a freshman. I really love basketball but I am not the best player.I'm am awaiting to see if I make the team when the results are being posted tomorrow. I tried dome of these things. I hope they worked.Thanks.

  1 reply  

Person says says:
12/7/2016 at 10:29:26 PM

I want to try out but at the same time I don't want to because I can play but not to good


jennifer ortiz says:
1/1/2017 at 11:56:37 PM

So I''m in 7th grade and basketball season coming up I''ve played volleyball cross-country and soccer so I''m used to the running but I''m really nervous because I''m not that good but I''m gonna keep practising till tryouts because I really wanna be on the team


Millie says:
1/3/2017 at 11:02:03 PM

I am trying out for the junior high basketball team. A lot of the girls have known each other for years and have played together for a long time. They know the coach already but the coach doesn't know me. I'm hoping with these tips I can show my coach that I want to be on the team and would be fully committed. Thanks for the tips, wish me luck!


Alexa says:
8/1/2017 at 6:03:23 PM

Do coaches look much into height?


jones says:
8/4/2017 at 12:51:32 AM

So im trying to make the Jr. High team, ive tryed out every year now, haven't made it, and now this is my last chance, ive been training my butt off ever since i didnt make the last tryouts and those were some pretty good pointers but, is there anything else besides those that i could do? all i want/am focused on right now in my life is to make the team, so any more pointers would be great.


Annelize says:
8/16/2017 at 2:05:47 AM

These are very very good tips and i''m going into 7th grade and i''m really good at basketball but when you don''t have good sportsmanship and team work they dont want you :(. The coaches look either for excellent ball handling or amazing defense. Those 2 qualities will give you a given spot on the team, you are prown to be on the team. So yeah, goodluck!!!!


Cabron Shaver says:
10/9/2017 at 11:26:27 PM

I am a freshman point guard and i using these tips to help me make the team so they hopefully work.


Keyondri Joy says:
10/24/2017 at 11:27:10 AM

I’m trying to play for Madison Shannon Palmer High school but I missed ninth grade tryouts and there isnt 10th grade tryouts. I am very sad and I want to play to make my family happy I need answers. I’m 16 and need help. My name is Keyondri Joy I got hundreds of PDFs downloaded on the gmail to learn and do stuff on Breakthrough Basketball.


Jairus25 says:
10/25/2017 at 5:27:51 PM

im trying out for the freshmen basketball team at west genesee i had alot of questions and this website gave me all of my answers Thank You


zaria larson says:
10/25/2017 at 5:29:15 PM

so this is good joe now i can really help my boyfriend i'm trying to convince him even though he love or like playing basketball with your thoughts and tips i am sure gonna help him.


Mary m says:
10/30/2017 at 12:55:17 AM

I've got basketball ball tryouts tomarrow and it's 10:54pm I'm so anxious and excited and scared I'm working out my body like crazydeco I'm so nervousted I've got to get in I'm so nervous heeelp


Jon D says:
11/4/2017 at 11:09:06 PM

Hey coach Joe, I'm in a very bad position in my eyes. For the last three years, I've been cut from every school team tryout I've done. 7th, 8th, and 9th grade... that's what I call a hat trick. Anyways, The summer going into this year (sophomore year) I've worked extremely hard to the point where I couldn't even go to school one day because I couldn't walk. I'm two weeks from tryouts, and I am trying 100% to prevent what happened these last three years from happening EVER again. I've shown the coach that I'm coachable, can communicate on defense, all of that stuff. Yet I did this last year, and I have a feeling I'm gonna be cut again. Is there any way to bring my confidence up? Thanks for replying if you do.

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
11/7/2017 at 10:41:40 AM

You have put in the work and that's the number one thing to build up confidence. Know you have worked harder... and that's all you can do. You can only control your effort and your attitude... you can't control what the coach chooses to do.

Your work ethic will serve you well in life... whether you make the team or not. Keep up the great attitude and outlook.


Evan says:
11/8/2017 at 9:29:18 PM



RJ Lisondra says:
2/13/2018 at 2:18:01 AM

Thanks for your advice. Its cool to read and understand it. Thank you! (y)


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.


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!


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


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!!!


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.


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?


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