I get this question from nervous high school and middle school players every fall.
A player tells me,
“I’ve been working on my game all summer. I can shoot accurately, handle the ball under pressure, play good defense, grab a good amount of rebounds, and drive hard to the basket to finish.
I’m nervous because I don’t know what the coaches are looking for at tryouts. Any last minute tips please?!?!”
If you’ve been putting in the work all summer, practicing and sharpening your game, the time to think is over. You’re ready. Why put in all that work all these months and then panic at the last moment? If that was your plan all along there was no point in doing all the work.
Basketball coaches — no matter what town or school you’re at — are looking for basketball players. Good basketball players who can shoot, pass, drive, rebound, defend. Players who show up, listen and work hard. That’s what all coaches look for. If you fit that description and show it when the lights come on, you’ll be making the basketball team.
Yes, I know you may be getting nervous at the big moment. This happens to everyone, even adults. Even those who have lots of experience. What do we all do when it’s showtime? Get into the zone. Find the mental focus that allows you to forget the people, the noises, the distractions, tomorrow’s homework… anything not directly related to you performing at your best and fullest level. You need to find/know what you need to do to get into your zone. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s a photo. Maybe it’s a thought. But whatever it is, no one can make it for you, no one can tell you what it is and how you can get into you zone. This is your zone. This is your job to figure out.
My senior year in high school was my last chance to finally make it on the varsity club (read all about that — and everything before and after — in my book “Buy A Game”). I knew it was my last chance but I knew I was ready. I knew I was good enough to make it and I knew I could out-play any player I was up against. I had put in the work for a year leading up to that day, and there was nothing left to do or think about before tryouts, just time to roll the ball out and see what happens.
The fact that you’re reading this page right now should tell you how that went. Good luck.