4 Easy Tips to Standout at a Tryout

4 Easy Tips to Standout at a Tryout

All of these tips in theory are ridiculously easy to do in a tryout situation, and yet I promise you, these 4 things will separate you from the group.  Let’s talk about them.

  • Talk – Talk – Talk
  1. When You Arrive. It starts when you come into the gym. Introduce yourself to ALL of the coaches.  Make sure they know your name, your school, and be ready to talk generally about any mutual connections that you may have.
  2. On Defense. Obviously, right?  Yet in every tryout you’ll hear the coaches point this out over and over again.  Call ball if you’ve got ball.  Let your teammates know when you have their weak side help.  Call out screens.  Call shot so we know we’re rebounding.  Open your mouth!!
  3. In Line. Talk to the other players around you.  Tell ‘em good shot when they score.  Encourage someone.  Do you want to stand out?  Everyone is not doing this.  It’s easy to do.
  • Hustle Everywhere.

This should go without saying, but it needs to be said.  Here’s the difference…everyone hustles when they have the ball.  Most will hustle on defense.  But here’s where they don’t hustle…..when everyone’s standing around shooting before you get started and the coach blows his whistle and says “Bring it in!”  And 30 players walk casually over to the huddle.  If you wanna stand out, hustle your rear end over to the huddle.  When the coach needs a ball, get him one.  It’s easy to do.  It falls into the category of hustle.

  • Game Like Passes.

Here’s an example:  The Closeout Drill.  You know the one?  A defender starts with the ball and throws it out to the shooter.  The defender follows his pass to closeout on the shooter.  Here’s a tryout tip:  Pass it like you mean it!  This is a matter of basketball integrity and work ethic.  It separates players.  The one who under hands a lob pass out so they can close out in time discloses their character immediately.  Coaches want players that will push themselves and their teammates to be the best they can be.  One important way to do that is with game like passes in every situation.

  • You Be You.

Play to your strengths in the tryout situation.  It’s not the time to work on the parts of your game that are challenges, or to change who you are as a player.

If you’re a shooter, shoot.  But let’s be clear, most players think they’re shooters.  And even a shooter can have an off day.  A coach knows that.  Unless you are shooting completely lights out, you won’t separate yourself from the others with your shooting.  What are the other areas of your game that you do well?  If you’re a rebounder, get after every ball!  If you’re a defender, let me give you a nugget….go find the best player to guard in every drill situation where you have a choice.  Be vocal about who you’re guarding.  Let everyone know you’re up to the challenge.  The coaches will know the best player out there, and have an eye on that player.  If you can shut that player down, you’ll get noticed too.


Coach Keri

An open letter to youth coaches everywhere!

I’d love to offer a few words…take them at face value, do with them what you wish.

Practice What You Preach!  If you want your team to have poise, think about starting the trend yourself.  Don’t be a raving lunatic when a player makes a mistake or throws a turnover or the referee makes a bad call.  If you want your team to bring some energy to practice, bring some yourself.  You’ll find those around you rise quickly when you’re energized.  If you want your team to focus on the next play after a mistake in a game, then stop harping on the mistake and move your own focus to the next play.  Address it in practice later.  Practice what you preach and make sure that you’re preaching on the right things!

Keep It Simple!  At practice, it’s important.  During time-outs, it’s critical.  Pick a concept to focus on and build around it.  If rebounding is an issue for your team, then maybe you need to focus a practice around it.  (I’ve seen some teams I think should probably focus a season around it.)  In practice, you can play games with scoring systems that reward rebounds over points.  (In the event rebounding actually is your team’s biggest problem, might I recommend this link:  https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/rebounding.html , I think you might get a spark of inspiration in that direction.) Whatever the area of focus, tell them, show them and allow them to practice it.  Give it the time and attention it needs, and keep it simple!

Pick Up The Pace!  There’s far too much standing around in practice, far too many single file lines.  Practice time is limited, and the only way they’re getting better is when they are actually practicing.  They don’t need to learn how to stand in a line (well, some of them could use some practice at that too, but you know what I mean).  They need to learn how to dribble a ball, how to pass, how to catch.  Rather than watch them one at a time while everyone else stands looking on, have them all do the drill as often as possible.  Guess what?  They need conditioning too.  It’s much more fun to get conditioning in while you’ve got a ball in your hands or a drill to keep you thinking.  Also, Youth Coaches, kids standing in line are usually unengaged and that’s when they get in trouble.  Can I get an Amen?

Teach Them It’s Ok to Fail!  So many kids are ridiculously stressed over their performance.  I’ve seen them time and time again break down in tears over a mistake.  They’ll spend the whole practice dribbling with their dominant hand because they don’t want to struggle through learning to dribble with the other one.  They need to know that it’s ok to fail, if they can’t successfully complete a drill today, they can work at it and improve.  Teach them to love the process!!

Last, but certainly not least…..Have fun!!  That means you, too!


Coach Keri


Welcome to the Dream Big Blog!

By following us you will be able to get some good tips and ideas on how to improve as a basketball player or coach. We will also try to help parents in staying positive and supportive. Founders/coaches George and Keri Holm together with coach/pro player Ny Hammonds will contribute to this blog. Sometimes we will also let guests contribute. Dream Big. Work Hard. Stay Humble.