Many players say something to me along the lines of, ‘I have a tryout coming up and (I’m nervous, I don’t know what the coaches are looking for, I want to impress, I don’t play as well in live situations as I do in practice or with my friends). What should I do?’
This is a stupid question on some levels because a lot of what players call ‘nervousness’ is just a lack of game — I can say this because I’ve been there. Every situation in my life in which I felt nervous before, basketball or not, was because I was not prepared for what was about to happen. When I went to tryouts for my high school varsity in the 9th grade, I was nervous as hell because I knew, deep down, that I was nowhere near ready to play for that team. That’s why I was nervous.
When I got invited to a gym to play pickup with some NBA players one Friday evening in the summer of 2011, there was no nervousness. By the summer of 2011, I knew I could play with anyone, no matter where or who. I was excited to go and play, because I knew I was going to do things in that gym that raised the perception of me as a player — both to myself, and to whomever was in there watching. And that’s exactly what happened.
So if you’re nervous the day before tryouts, I do have advice for you — go back in time 6 months and put in more work on your game so you are prepared for tomorrow.