What to Expect at Basketball Tryouts

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Coaches have their criteria in selecting their players and building the team. You don’t know what to expect at basketball tryouts. It’s nice to be well-informed, but too much information gets in the way, leaving you confused.

Focus on the basics of basketball. Dribbling is about your ball handling abilities, you should be accurate in your shooting, and your teammates should receive the ball when you pass. Work on your physical conditioning, hone your skills and bring these to the basketball court on tryout day.

This material delves into what coaches look for to help you prepare for a basketball tryout.

What are Basketball Tryouts LikeWhat are Basketball Tryouts Like?

A basketball tryout is an avenue to get your skills noticed. Expect to face players with the same skill as yours or better.

Basketball skills and smarts do not guarantee a ticket to the team. Your game should complement the team’s play, has a sense of urgency, and you should follow the coach’s instructions. Play the position assigned to the hilt, and make things happen effectively in the most productive way possible.

A guard directs plays and dishes out passes to open teammates. Centers are expected to be a terror on defense and a good rebounder, and a decent shooter is an advantage. Point productions are left to the forwards and do many things the same as a center’s role, like rebounding and defending low post players.

Basketball tryouts are stressful, so wear your comfy outfit, bring your water container, and get rid of butterflies in your stomach. Here’s what to expect at basketball tryouts.

Physical Exertion

Basketball tryouts will run over several days; you should be physically fit to endure the challenging drills ahead. The coach and coaching staff know the type of player they need, and they are looking for players that match the skillset they have in mind.

There will be many candidates vying for a place on the roster. Expect varied training, drill, and exercise routines. The coach is trying to weed out the less skilled athletes from strong players through physical exertion.


Once the number of candidates is trimmed, coaches will use drills to test the skills of the remaining athletes. They want to check your shooting, court vision, dribbling, defense, rebounding, maneuvering, and decision-making abilities.

Scrimmages and one-on-one games determine a basketeer’s ability and skills while playing. Coaches will be watching your reactions to specific game situations.

More Drills

As more players are cut, more drills await the surviving candidates to determine their ability on the court.

Basketball tryouts differ. Coaches have their design of conducting a tryout. Emphasis may be on HIIT workouts, dashes, zig-zag, stationary, or shooting drills.

Layups and jump shots test a player’s offense. Expect to be put in game situations to execute catch and shoot, two dribbles, then shoot, or spin and shoot.

Coaches will look at your ballhandling skills by asking you to dribble from right to left or dribble around cones while running the entire court.

A 3-man weave workout will determine your passing ability and how you communicate with teammates for a layup in the end.

How Long are Basketball TryoutsHow Long are Basketball Tryouts?

Basketball tryouts for college, high school, or recreational basketeers may last for a couple of hours or days depending on the turnout of aspirants and the preparations made by the coach.

A tryout is an opportunity to display your basketball savvy while following your coach’s instructions and how to blend with teammates. Coaches look for specific skills during tryouts, how players react to game situations, stamina, and mindset. Come early and be the last one to head out; this will show how much you want a place on the roster.

It’s nice if there’s a LeBron among the candidates, but coaches don’t expect one. They’re looking for candidates who’re anxious to learn to be the best, so they’re after your attitude and how skills are applied in the game. Avoid overdoing things to impress, like attempting difficult shots that don’t go in or dizzying crossover dribbles resulting in loose balls. Listen to the coach’s instructions and follow them to the hilt, they won’t mind if the play turns sour, but they do care if directions are not followed.

Coaches keep a tab on players’ performance; their hustle plays, shot selection, decision-making, teamwork, and defensive and offensive plays.

How to Prepare for a Basketball TryoutHow to Prepare for a Basketball Tryout?

Young ballers are excited to display their wares in a basketball tryout. A tryout is an opportunity to show the fruits of their time spent in practice by competing with other ballers in a sport they love. 

Unfortunately, not every player makes the team, but there are many ways a young baller can prepare to improve the odds. The right attitude and preparation can build confidence during basketball tryouts to impress the coaching staff and make the roster.

Work on Your Skills

Basketball is a scoring game. Shooting is about muscle memory, getting in a comfortable rhythm alongside accuracy, and shooting with confidence. Intense shooters increase a player’s chance of making the team.

Steph Curry makes 1,000 practice shots every day. At 33, Curry raised the boundaries of perfect shooting to a whole new level. His typical shooting drill was not enough; Curry’s new crazy shooting drill utilized technology for precision. A ball missing the middle of the rim is considered a lousy shot, even if the ball went in. No wonder he can make a trey with his eyes closed.

Today’s NBA players use the dribble as an offensive weapon. The ball quickly transfers to the left and right hands, confusing the defender for a free shot. Practice crossover dribbles with the left and right hand around chairs and cones to improve dribbling skills.

While at it, practice your footwork for those ankle-braking moves, use the left or right hand for making shots, and learn body control. 

Ja Morant is one of the NBA’s rising stars. Morant is an epitome of contemporary basketball possessing the skills and moves of modern-day basketeers.

Never rest until you are your best. Build on your strengths and improve weaknesses so they won’t be a liability.

Work on Conditioning

The right diet and proper amount of sleep can impact physical abilities. Young basketeers should have the stamina and physical conditioning to stand the demands of basketball. Running five miles daily and doing sprint drills before a basketball workout will keep you physically fit.

Zion Williamson looked like an NBA star prospect, but his weight problems limited his playing career to just 85 games. Williamson’s overweight raised red flags in the New Orleans Pelicans’ camp; he missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to a foot injury. With the team’s interest in mind, the franchise included clauses in Williamson’s max extension contract.

The new contract is worth $193 million; if his weight is 295 pounds and under, non-fulfillment will reduce the guaranteed money. Williamson will pocket the max amount of $231 million if he makes an All-NBA team named Defensive Player of the Year or wins an MVP award in the NBA 2022-23 season.

Stay Focused

You must be mentally ready. Coaches will make you do drills that you may not have done before. They might require you to do several sprints, layups, or jump shots within a specific timeframe.

Of course, you won’t have a perfect basketball tryout. A missed open shot or a loose ball from a dribble may dampen the spirit; it’s your bad, but don’t let it get the best of you. Unexpected things happen, and coaches know these, accept your mistakes graciously. Coaches will love you for that.

Pay Attention to Coach’s Instructions

Pay attention and understand the coach’s instructions. Coaches won’t mind if you followed instructions, and the play didn’t work out right; it’s another thing if you didn’t follow.

Ask the coach if anything about the drill is unclear; this shows that you are paying attention and want things to turn out well.

How Do You Stand Out at Basketball TryoutsHow Do You Stand Out at Basketball Tryouts

Many candidates will be vying for a slot in the basketball team’s roster. First impressions may spell the difference between getting cut or not. You are under the coach’s radar; bring your best to the court and follow these tips to help you stand out in a basketball tryout.

Come Early

If the schedule for a basketball tryout is 8 am, come at 7:30 am or earlier. You’ll have enough time to change your outfit, get a feel of the place, remove the butterflies in your stomach, get acquainted with other candidates, and do some warmup exercises. Coming late is enough reason for a coach to cut you out.

Be in Shape

Your skills should have improved from drills, and your body is physically fit before tryouts. Coaches are after players who are in shape and show skills that complement the team.

Be Prepared

Research on drills by coaches during a basketball tryout. Coaches might ask you to execute a set of routines to test you.

Show Intensity

Basketball tryouts are not your regular pickup games. Show the coaching staff how badly you want to be on the team. If you’re on defense, make the offensive player’s life miserable and wow the defense with your offensive moves.

Communicate with your teammates, not only with words but also through eye contact, body reactions, and facial representations. Inspire your teammates by offering advice and words of encouragement.


Work on your mistakes by accepting the coach’s feedback; they are doing this to improve your game. Use the critique not as an insult but to develop your game to be a better player.

What to Avoid During Basketball TryoutsWhat to Avoid During Basketball Tryouts?

Basketball tryouts are grueling, fast-paced, and demanding. Athletes participating in the tryout are physically fit and honed their skills, but there are things to avoid during the tryout to escape getting cut.

Avoid Overtraining

Basketball tryouts entail a lot of physical activity and taking steps to train ensures that you are fit for the rigors ahead. Athletes should be physically fit and fully recovered from workouts to guarantee optimal efficiency during a tryout.

An overtrained athlete has his energy depleted. 

Eating Foods High in Fat and Fiber 

Feeding on foods high in fat and fiber content, such as fried foods, leaves a basketeer feeling lazy, bloated, or with an upset stomach.

Sacrifice your palate on tryout day; instead, fuel with scrambled eggs, wheat toast, and fruit for a morning tryout, and an afternoon tryout feast on a turkey sandwich, pretzels, and an apple.

Not Enough Sleep

Sleep impact an athlete’s performance and help repair muscle cells. Lack of sleep results in a lower speed decreased stamina and high heart rate.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Coaches don’t want players who don’t get along with teammates or shout at them. Not listening to instructions and feedback and not playing hard won’t earn you a ticket to the team.

Wrapping Things Up: What to Expect at Basketball Tryouts

You’re used to playing basketball pickup games, and it’s your first time joining a basketball tryout, and you don’t know what to expect at basketball tryouts.

Don’t overdo things by trying to learn everything about tryouts by watching YouTube videos. It’s basketball, be good with the fundamentals like dribbling, shooting, and passing. Take time to hone your skills and be physically fit during tryout day.

Stop guessing or stressing yourself about expectations; coaches have a system for selecting players.

Coming well prepared is not a guarantee that you’ll make the roster-what happens, happens. Learn from this experience and if you don’t make it, work on your weaknesses for another tryout. You don’t know what lies ahead.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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