11 Tips for Basketball Tryouts (How to Stand Out and Get Selected)


The first day of basketball tryouts can be a nerve-wracking experience for players.

No matter how long you've been playing or how many tryouts you've attended, everyone gets those little butterflies in their stomach before walking into the gym.

Today, I'll try to calm your nerves a bit...

Below I've listed several things you can do to prepare for basketball tryouts.

Whether you’re a freshman trying to make your high school team, a youth player attempting to earn a spot on a travel team, or an athlete hoping to make an impression on an AAU coach...

The 11 tryout tips below can help you.

11 Basketball Tryouts Tips:

1. Arrive in Fantastic Shape

Possibly the single best thing you can do to improve your odds of getting selected is making sure your body is in good condition BEFORE tryouts begin.

Basketball tryouts always involve A LOT of running or transition play.

Some coaches even seek to find out which players can fight through fatigue.

You want to be able to focus on playing your best, not simply surviving the tryout.

If you arrive in peak shape, you'll have a big advantage over many of your peers.

2. Trust Your Preparation

It’s easy to feel nervous due to the stress of the tryout.

Try to fight off these nerves by trusting yourself and the work you have already done!

Preparation equals confidence.

Think about it…

If you have spent countless hours developing your shot, improving your ball handling, studying the game, and practicing against good competition, why wouldn’t you feel confident?

You deserve to make the team!

All you have to do is go out and prove it.

boy holding basketball on outdoor court

3. Arrive Early and Get to Work

In many areas of life, it’s possible to make a good impression by simply showing up early.

(this is one of the many life lessons basketball will teach)

If your tryout is right after school, get ready quickly and get out to the court.

If your tryout is in the evening, ask your parents to can get you there well ahead of the start time.

While this probably won’t be the make or break factor on who makes the team, it gives you a chance to show the coaches you’re serious about making the team.

If you don’t already know the coach, make a point to introduce yourself to him or her.

When you take the court, begin working on your game immediately.

Coaches don’t want to see players messing around and shooting half court shots before practice.

Begin with form shooting or completing a ball-handling routine.

4. Your Body Language Is Important

This is an aspect of the game that players often overlook.

Coaches place a huge premium on body language.

Understand that you're communicating your attitude not only with your words, but also with your eyes, reactions, and facial expressions.

Be sure to make eye contact and nod your head to show understanding.

Don’t pout or stop playing if you miss a shot or think you get fouled.

Your coaches WILL constantly be assessing these things.

If they think you're inattentive or easily rattled / frustrated, it will hurt your chances.

5. Be the Loudest Player in the Gym

Communication is huge!

There are several ways to help your team, as well as your own chances of making the final roster, by focusing on communicating well.

First, the defensive end of the floor is a great place to constantly talk.

Does your coach give you specific verbals to use?

Maybe he or she wants you to communicate “BALL,” “GAP,” “DENY” or some other defensive phrases.

If your coach doesn’t specify, simply call out what you are doing throughout each defensive possession:

  • “I got your help!”
  • “I’ve got the ball!”
  • “Force him left!”

A talking defender is usually an engaged defender.

Just as important, you can elevate the environment of the practice by offering reminders and encouragement to your teammates.

Basketball tryouts do pit players against one another as everyone is fighting to make the team...

But coaches want to keep players who are great teammates!

A player who is constantly encouraging those around her will have an advantage over someone who keeps to herself.

Make sure your coaches and teammates hear you!

Finally, you may be asked to learn some new plays, drills, or concepts during the tryout period.

If you don’t understand something, be sure to ask a coach.

This is important for two reasons:

(1) Asking a question to gain clarification is certainly better than messing up the drill.

(2) Asking questions show that you are engaged and that you want to learn more.

6. Get “Teammate Touches”

This is another form of communication.

Show support for your teammates by high-fiving and fist bumping as much as possible.

This is a simple way to show leadership and to enhance the practice environment.

Get touches when running to the end of a line or after a teammate makes a good play.

Challenge yourself to get one touch and to make two comments of encouragement each minute of your basketball tryouts (when a coach isn’t talking, of course).

7. Focus on the “Little Things”

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens once said:

“When considering the consequences of not doing the little things, you realize there are no little things.”

Coaches understand this, and smart players do as well.

Coaches want players on their team they can trust to do everything possible to help the team win.

Of course you can help yourself in tryouts by knocking down shots…

But everyone has the occasional poor shooting day.

So make sure you aren’t relying on having a good shooting day by finding other ways to make a great impression on the coaches.

  • Take a charge
  • Communicate loud
  • Dive on a loose ball
  • Listen with your eyes
  • Battle hard for rebounds
basketball tryouts

8. Play to Your Strengths

This tip is crucial.

As a player, you must realize what you do AND do not do well.

All players will have strengths and weaknesses.

You’ll make the best impression on the coaches by focusing on what you do well.

For example:

If you’re not a great shooter, it doesn’t make sense to throw up a wild shot every time you touch the ball in hopes of draining a three-pointer.

That’s likely not the best way to show the coaching staff how you will help their team.

On the other hand…

If you excel at rebounding, challenge yourself to be the BEST rebounder in the gym.

(Who would possibly cut the best rebounder on the team?)

Or maybe you’re a quick and savvy defensive player...

Make an effort to pressure your opponent full court and disrupt your man every time he or she has the ball.

By the end of basketball tryouts, make sure the coaches know exactly what you do well.

You’ll have time to improve your areas of weakness throughout the season.

9. Sprint the Floor on Every Possession

Transition is a tremendously important part of the game.

Players who sprint in offensive transition can accumulate easy baskets. And players who run hard in defensive transition can wipe out easy opportunities for the opponent.

Both are crucial to winning games, and both can make an impression on your coaches.

Doing this well comes down to a few factors.

The first goes back to tip number one…

Be in shape!

Next, try to develop a mindset of running hard.

You don’t have to be the quickest player in the gym to run hard.

Players who can read the play and take off immediately in transition have a huge advantage over those who “ball watch”.

Coaches often talk about the importance of the first three steps in the transition game.

When your team gets a defensive rebound, take off!

If your opponent rebounds the ball, sprint back and be ready to make a play!

Your coaches will notice.

10. Details, Details, Details

Basketball coaches are inherently detail-oriented.

If a play calls for a player in the corner, they want him all the way in the corner.

If a screen is supposed to be set on the elbow, that’s where it needs to be.

Be sure to listen and do your best to execute the nuances of the game.

You can also show your attention to detail in how you execute the fundamentals.

For example:

Many coaches include a brief form shooting segment in their practice plans.

Don’t simply flip up the ball...

Get your feet set, snap your wrist, and hold your follow through!

Executing these details show that you are focused and trying to do your best.

11. Compete Your Butt Off

Your team’s basketball tryout is a competition.

While it’s not productive to get caught up in comparing yourself to other potential players, you do need to be ready to compete hard.

The best way to compete is by simply doing YOUR best in every part of the tryout.

That’s all anyone can expect you to do!

If you play as hard as you can in every drill and scrimmage, you will put yourself in great position to not only make the team, but to excel and have a great season.


Coaches understand that the basketball tryouts process can be stressful for players.

Trust me, it can be stressful for us as well!

Coaches want to see players excel and show how they can help the team.

So relax!

Prepare yourself to the best of your ability, be confident, be a great teammate, focus, and do your best. If you do those things, you are bound to have a successful tryout.

Good luck!


basketball tryouts

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