Every player wants to stand out during tryouts. You want to get noticed, impress the coach, and make the team. The truth is, not everyone can be the star, but everyone can impress the coach. Here are 11 little habits that can make a big impression:
1. Be Technology Free
This one is simple. Before entering the gym, put your phone and headphones in your bag or leave them in your locker. Your coach doesn’t care how many likes you got on your last post or if you’re rocking the latest headphones. Your coach wants to see who is present and ready to compete the moment they step into the gym. Impress your coach by committing to being technology free during tryouts and don’t look at your phone or put on your headphones until you’re out of the gym—after tryouts.
2. Introduce Yourself
Since you won’t be distracted by your phone, walk over to the coach and introduce yourself. Give them a firm handshake with great eye contact and smile. Ask them about their day and the program. Try to form a quick bond with coach before you step onto the floor. Then ask if you can grab a basketball and start your pre-practice warm up. Impress your coach by taking initiative.
3. Break a Sweat
You’ll have to arrive early enough to do this, but be intentional about your pre-practice warm up. Start with a few ball handling drills then move into a predetermined shooting workout that starts with shots next to the basket and moves back. Skip the dunks and the reverse layups. Impress your coach by understanding how to train yourself by shooting game shots from game spots at game speeds. Show them you care by how you prepare.
4. Greet Others
Assuming you were one of the first players in the gym, greet others with smiles and high fives. Be the teammate that everyone wants to play with. If you don’t know someone’s name, get it. Now you can use more names during tryouts. Impress your coach with your body language and communication skills.
5. Be the First
Hustle. Be the first to huddle up. The first to start the drill. The first to help a teammate. The first to give a high five. The list can go on and on. Impress your coach with your hustle by striving to be the first.
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6. Thank the Passer
Even if you missed the shot, thank the passer. This shows the coach that you are not solely worried about your play but that you are a team player. It demonstrates communication skills and relaxes your teammates, making them want to play with you more. Impress your coach with an understanding of “we over me” by thanking the passer.
7. Compete with a Smile
Be the player no one wants to play against but everyone wants to play with. It’s okay and expected that you compete in every drill and every play, but don’t alienate your teammates to make an impression. You want your competitive nature to elevate practice and make your teammates better—not make them angry with you. Impress your coach by enhancing the practice environment.
8. Animate after Mistakes
It’s impossible to go through tryouts without making mistakes—especially if you’re committed to competing and doing your absolute best. Coaches know this. Coaches notice how you respond to mistakes. They’re looking for players whose gut reaction is to sprint back on defense and make a play if it’s turned over. Impress your coaches by letting mistakes motivate you, not defeat you.
9. Do You
Winning teams aren’t filled with superstars. They’re filled with players that know their role and star in it. Go into tryouts knowing your strengths and then commit to showing them off. If you’re a great on-ball defender, step up and volunteer to guard the best ball handler. Impress your coach by doing something so well they can’t afford to cut you.
10. Thank the Coaches
When the day is done, make sure you find and thank the coaches for their time. Give them another handshake and demonstrate great eye contact and body language. Impress your coaches by acknowledging them and the work they’ve put in.
11. Be the Last to Leave
When you thank the coaches, ask if there is anything that needs to be put away or cleaned up. Then, if a basket is available, don’t leave the gym until you’ve made ten free throws in a row. It doesn’t have to be ten, but pick a number you feel good about getting without spending an extra forty five minutes in the gym. If no basket is available, do line shots, wall shots, or a simple ball handling workout. Impress your coaches by being the last to leave.
These 11 little habits won’t guarantee you’ll make the team. The work you put in during the off season will be a large factor. But these 11 habits can help make a lasting impression on your coaches that could mean the difference between making the team and getting cut.
Too many players waste time working on things that don’t happen very often in games. One thing all great players have in common is their intentional training of game-specific actions
This is a correspondence between PGC owner Dena Evans and a long-time PGC grad. I was so moved by Dena’s response to this player, which the player’s father shared with me, I decided to ask Dena, and this athlete, for permission to share this correspondence publicly. If you know the heart-ache and disappointment of not reaching your team or individual goals, this is a must-read.
Far too often, basketball players make the game too hard with their go to move. They use multiple dribble combo move that rarely result in a successful attack. James Harden
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