Lessons in Youth Basketball

Trying out for your school team this year?

Have you been cut before or are pretty nervous about trying out?

How do I make the team?

This is a question asked by thousands of kids each year…

Basketball tryouts can be very challenging and exciting. Your goal is to showcase your basketball skills to prove that you deserve a spot on the team.  With so much little time to show what you’ve got, most players typically put all of their effort in to scoring.

However, this is not the only determining factor that coaches look at when deciding on who can help their team win.

Coaches evaluate you as a basketball player in a lot of ways. Remember that basketball players do not just score points. Players also need to be able to rebound, help other players score, and play exceptional defense. You also need to be a team player, showcasing good sportsmanship and a positive attitude.   

If you focus heavily on scoring alone during a basketball tryout, you might miss out on opportunities to make the team.

At PSB, we evaluate a lot of players and work with a ton of local coaches and have a good grasp on what they are looking for in a player. Here are the top 10 tryout tips that you should consider when trying out for your school team.

#1 Practice and Prepare

They say that practice makes perfect. This must be your goal if you want to make your school basketball team. Practice multiple times a week at home or at a gym. Diligence in practicing can help you become more focused and alert. It can also hone your skills in ball-handling, shooting, or effectively guarding your opponent.

When you practice hard, you can prepare yourself to face the pressure that comes with trying out or auditioning for anything life.

When the time comes, no matter how nerve-wracking it may be, you know you’ve practiced diligently, and that you are prepared to take on the challenge.

#2 Be Smart and Understand the System

Every individual is unique. This does not exclude a basketball coach, hence, each coach has his or her own system on and off the court. When you are trying out to become a part of his or her team, understanding their system can help you standout amongst the pack.

Does the coach value conservative play?

Or does he or she want to play a run and gun?

Watch the previous games that he or she has coached to get a better understanding of what the coach values. Previous games can give you insights on how the coach manages the team. It will also show the strategies that the coach likes for his team to execute on the offensive and defensive end.

In some instances, it would be best to communicate with the coach before tryouts. Do not be shy! Directly ask the coach what he or she needs in the team. Once you know this, focus on some of those things while you train.

If you get or don’t get the answer you want, asking can be impressive and show that you are willing to do what it takes to help the team to win.

Yes, basketball involves basketball IQ as well. Some of these things mentioned, can help showcase that you are more than just skill, but you can think as well.

It is imperative that you can execute the Xs and Os or the coach can’t put you on the court.

#3 Do the Little Things

What does it mean to do the little things?

When talking about basketball, the first thing that may come to mind is scoring a lot of points. Everyone wants to be Steph Curry these days.

Don’t ever think that the little things do not count and won’t get you noticed. When the opportunity presents itself, take a charge, dive on the floor for a loose ball, defend the ball by moving your feet, hustle on both sides of the ball, and be a vocal leader.

You may not score one basket during tryouts, but if you can do the little things, the coach will notice.

#4 Showcase What You Do Well

When you try out for the team, your goal is to impress the coach and earn a spot. Impressing the coach does not only include knocking down shots, it means showing the coach what you can do for the team.

Always keep in mind that in basketball, every player isn’t going to be called on as a shooter.  If you are an excellent rebounder, show that you can grab every rebound. If you are a great finisher, show how you are great at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim.

If you are a pretty good ball-handler, show how you can direct the offense with your ball-handling ability and set others up to score.

In the same light, if you are not good at the long ball, do not step out and try to force a 3-point shot during a tryout. We see this all the time!

Tryouts provide limited opportunities to make a great impression. Thus, you have to make it count!  Do what you do best!

#5 Be a Team Player with a Great Attitude

Every coach wants a team player who can savor victory out of a good game and who can encourage the team during a bad game. A basketball player who can lift the spirits of the other players during a bad game surely deserves a spot on the team. Someone who can make each team member better around them can surely be a valuable asset to any team.

Encouraging your teammates with a positive attitude can be contagious and help the team have a positive vibe. The coach will lean on that at times to boost morale when the team has a rough game or season.

When you display good sportsmanship on and off court, the coach and the team may see you as someone they can count on during crucial moments. Helping others get better does not mean that you will help someone else get a spot and you will give up yours.

It simply means that the team, including the coach, can always rely on you to create a positive culture amongst the players. That is an invaluable selfless skill because everyone will not do this!

#6 Communicate with the Team

Basketball is played as a team. You do not play alone, thus, communicating with your teammates is inevitable. While it is true that some players use signs or signals in communicating with their teammates, there are still times when you need to get loud to relay the message across.

One of the most important factors in playing a sport is your ability to communicate effectively.  

Picture a game with a roaring crowd, do you think that you can play without speaking loudly?

If there is a screen and you don’t let your teammate know, that won’t be good for anyone. Talking is a part of the game and doing it effectively and consistently is so important!

Coaches appreciate a player who can be a vocal leader amongst the team and back him or her up when needed.

In tryouts, don’t be afraid to talk amongst strangers or friends. Young players tend to shy away from talking while playing.

Go ahead and tell yourself, you are going to stand out by communicating in a positive manner on the defensive and offensive end.

#7 Make the Right Mistakes

You might have heard this a million times, but it helps – nobody is perfect!  This is true even in basketball. You are human and you are bound to make mistakes.

If you throw a bad pass or commit a foul, do not argue about it. Do not let your mistakes affect the rest of your game. Don’t have the compounding effect.

Don’t allow one mistake on defense compound to a mistake on the offensive end and so forth. Always have the next play mentality.

Coach Bob Mckillop teaches the next play mentality very well! He understands that if the team doesn’t score a basket on one end, they have to get a defensive stop on the other.

Coaches look want players who can positively react to mistakes and still improve their play as well as the team.

#8 Listen Well

Playing basketball is not just about executing moves, handling the ball, or shooting, it is also about listening to the coach. This is the reason why he or she is called the coach, he or she explains strategies or gives instructions for you to execute.

When the coach is talking, be sure to listen well. In an ongoing game, drill or practice, the coach will not always have time to repeat himself or herself. This is why you have to be attentive to all that he or she says.  

When the coach is saying something, make sure to maintain eye contact, if possible, and internalize what is being said. Focus so that you can execute.

#9 Hustle Hard

What College Coaches Look For in Recruits

First and foremost, make sure you arrive early to your tryout. When you arrive, do not just sit and wait.

Practice your moves while you are waiting and get mentally focused on giving your best effort.

Second, hustle hard! Make sure you exhibit enthusiasm and be the first in line during drills. Try to win each sprint and move at game speed.

By hustling, you are showing that you are willing to push yourself and your potential teammates by going the extra mile.

#10 Stay Healthy

Basketball is a contact sport and it requires focus, power, and speed. In order for you to achieve your basketball goals, you have to maintain good health.

When trying out for your school basketball team, you have to exhibit energy and a healthy physique. A coach cannot give a spot to someone who gets exhausted easily or to someone that moves very slow.

Being healthy is not only seen physically but mentally as well. You have to be alert at all times, thus, the presence of mind is also very important.

Pro Skills Basketball is an organization that aims to positively impact the youth basketball culture around the world. Our goal is to empower basketball players with the tenacious pursuit of self-improvement.

We are also committed to motivating players through life lessons that can help them become successful on and off court.

Pro Skills Basketball is a proud member of the Jr. NBA flagship network and is excited to be working in China. We look forward to developing Chinese basketball youth culture in a positive manner for years to come!

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