This article was written by Basketball HQ Co-Founder Kyle Ohman
Tryouts typically only last for 2-3 days and during this time you are challenged with finding the roster that you are going to have for the entirety of the season. In most cases you have a pretty good idea of who your top 6-8 players are going to be already, so you are really looking to evaluate the players that are going to make up the back half of your team.
The challenge now comes down to figuring out who players 9-14 are going to be. Most of the time these players are pretty evenly skilled and you are going to have to pick between players that could both potentially help your team.
On the other hand, you may even be thinking that these players don’t really matter that much outside or practice and team culture, because they most likely wont be in your 8 man rotation, and in a perfect world this may be true. However, there are always going to be situations where a player gets hurt/sick, is failing a class, gets into foul trouble, etc. and you are going to need players from your bench to step up.
So it is important that you evaluate and find the players that best fit for your program. Here are some tips for choosing the right basketball tryout drills and situations for discerning what players should make the cut or not.
If a player shows up out of shape to tryouts this is immediate red flag. It either shows that the player is selfish or uncommitted to the team. There are some exceptions to this, like returning from injury or having played a different sport before that is a different type of conditioning.
Most of the time though, if a player shows up out of shape it reveals their lack of commitment to wanting to be a part of the team. Look for players that are in shape and have been putting in work during the off season.
You can never have enough players on a team that are willing to compete and give it all they have in everything they do. Select some basketball drills that directly highlight competing. You will quickly be able to recognize the players that are willing to go to battle and those that are too cool to get on the floor, fight for the rebound, and out compete everyone else on the floor.
You want a program filled with players that are going to be challenging each other to get better, this is the culture that you want. So even if a player never touches the court in a game, but is challenging the starting 5 to get better regularly in practice, you have a great piece to a winning program.
So many games come down to being able to execute when the pressure is on. Games and even seasons can hinge on a few possessions at the end of a game. You want players that are going to be able to think and show mental toughness when the pressure is on. So make sure that you set up situations in your tryout that makes players have to execute a few different game situations.
It will quickly be evident what players are able to execute and those that seem lost. A great time to do this is after some kind of conditioning. One of the hardest things for players to do is execute when they are fatigued.
Not every player is going to be a master at all three of these categories, so it is up to you to find which players are the best at all three combined. You may want a player that is competitor to help influence practice, or you may want a player that you can trust to give you a few good minutes during the course of a game because you know they will execute at a high level. You need to determine what is best for your team and its needs.
Your choice may come down to role as well. Maybe you need a defender, a shooter, etc. find players that are going to fit your system and meet the needs that your team has.
"Our job [as coaches] isn't to assemble the best players, it's to put together the best team." – Bill Belichick