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Basketball Tryouts in Colorado

Basketball Tryouts in Colorado
written by Mark Sharpley

Tryouts: a player's perspective.

Always remember the game needs to be fun

Youth sport participation has traditionally been viewed as a positive leisure involvement because of its contribution to healthy lifestyles and character development. These benefits can be compromised when parents and coaches engage in youth sport as their own serious leisure.

Players should know:

Relax before the tryout

Above all play to your strengths – avoid your weaknesses

Research the team and coach – what are they looking for

Do your best – There is no more you can do

Don’t get down on yourself no matter the outcome

There are other teams and more opportunities

If the game is your passion only you can determine your final outcome

Hustle and have a great attitude

Coaches' Focus
Running Successful Basketball Tryouts

What to Look for in Players

Hustle: if they want to be on the team, they better realize now that they need to work for it. A player that works hard, that runs drills as quickly as they can, that sprints to you when the whistle blows - this player will learn and develop quickly. Those that lope along and slouch on the sidelines won't.

Aggression: they've got to want the ball, be willing to take the shot, drive the lane, and hang in there for the charge.

Attitude: For players it's more than just wanting to play the game, it's how they see that playing happening. They need to be positive in their actions and words, team-oriented in their approach, demonstrate the ability to lead as well as realize other players hold as important a place on the court as they do.

Conditioning: losing a game because the other team is better than you is bad enough; losing because you got run off the court is unforgivable. The less time you need to spend on conditioning in the preseason, the more time you can spend on skills and strategy development.

Athletic Ability: not skill here, but the qualities that make a person an athlete, regardless of the sport they are playing; Agility, speed, quickness, endurance, reaction time are all key attributes.

Skill: but keep in mind, this is low on the list for a reason. Skills can be taught, and taught relatively easily. Just because a player is skilled doesn't mean he's a good fit for your team. A highly skilled player with a bad attitude can easily drive a wedge into an otherwise good team.

Height: basketball is a game where height counts, and unless you are blessed with several tall players who can play, a tall player who can't play can be worked with. Remember, skills can be taught - height can't.

Team Balance: you don't want 12 guards on the team. Or 12 centers. When choosing the team, you need to consider basketball positions and balance your choice to end up with 3 or 4 guards, 5 or 6 forwards, 2 to 4 big men.

The Pre-Tryout Meeting

Have a meeting before the first session of basketball tryouts. Emphasize what you'll be looking for - the list above - and how important it is for players to have these attributes, how these abilities will help them succeed.

Also emphasize that these are expectations on the court and off. Work hard in practice, but word hard in school as well. Have a positive attitude on the court, and a positive attitude on the street. Trouble with academics or outside of school will signal trouble for the team - players can't play if they are suspended.

This can also be the time where you can gather information from the players. Hand out player bio sheets for them to complete, asking for name, age, grade, contact information, previous playing experience. After you have chosen the team, add to this more information, such as the players' academic schedules, so that you can contact teachers if necessary. Teachers usually appreciate this - for some players, the threat of sitting the bench or suspension from the team will make them study harder, or at least, hard enough to pass.

Managing the Tryouts

Run basketball tryouts like you would a practice - have a good practice plan for tryouts, and make them work, make them show what they've got to give the team. This will show you who's serious, who's been practicing, and who you will want to coach. Nobody wants to coach a player who won't hustle.

Have an assistant coach or a couple of managers help you. Issue numbered and colored pennies at the beginning of each practice, so if taking notes you don't need to be remembering the player's name, just the number. This allows managers to do the same when they are tracking performance as well. Much of the basic information you are tracking can be done by managers (points, turnovers, rebounds) which frees you up to focus on the more important aspects - attitudes and interactions.

Just a note - I know of coaches who have returning players do some of this - not always a great idea, in my view, since personal biases can pop up. Stick as best you can to using adults for your assistants.

Player Evaluations
For Players and Coaches

Evaluate players for the qualities listed above - attitude, work ethic, team play and leadership, hustle, speed and quickness.

Also evaluate their skills in the following areas:

Performance in game setting under pressure
Accuracy under pressure
Ball Handling
Handles the ball efficiently with both hands
Vision for the floor while dribbling
Maintains control under pressure
Defensive Skills
Attacks the glass
Battles for position
Does not give up
Runs the floor after rebounding
Defensive Skills
Applies defensive pressure on the ball
Moves feet
Helps and recovers

After Tryouts

If your numbers permit, try to talk to each player you've cut individually. Offer advice and suggestions of what they can improve on, and how they might go about making those improvements. Suggest basketball camps or player development personal you know of where they may get some coaching and experience. Remember that these kids have a lot of their hopes and egos wrapped up in this, and to be cut can be a painful experience for them.

Parent and Player Focus

The competition for rosters spots on winter sports teams seems to be more ferocious than ever. Tryouts pose a particular challenge to young athletes still playing fall sports. Here are some tips for parents on how they can help their child perform at their best during tryouts:

Make sure the child's pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE) is up-to-date. Not only are physicals important in identifying physical conditions effecting sports participation, such as asthma or a history of concussions, a signed, up-to-date PPE form is required by virtually all schools before an athlete is allowed to play sports. Because different schools use different physical forms make sure your child's doctor signs the correct form and that you make three copies: one for your records, one for your child to hand-deliver to the school nurse, and a third to hand-deliver to the coach/athletic director. Many a athlete has missed the first critical days of tryouts because the PPE form was lost or is outdated. Have all dental work and check-ups completed weeks in advance.

Make sure your athlete gets enough sleep. Studies show teenagers need nine hours of sleep but only get about seven.1 A tired athlete, especially one still playing fall sports, isn't going to be able to perform at their best during tryouts. You can help by setting a consistent "lights-out" time for turning off the computer, cell phone, MP3, and TV, so your athlete gets the rest needed for peak performance. Have phones and other handheld devices docked away from the bedroom to reduce the opportunity for late night texting and gaming.

Make sure the shoe fits. Poorly-fitting or worn-out shoes can trip up an athlete on the way to making the team. Make sure your young athlete is trying out in properly fitting shoes that they have been broken in before tryouts start and that they are providing the proper support. Many an athlete has been sidelined by blisters from practicing hard in brand-new shoes. It is also important; both for peak performance and to prevent overuse injuries, that the shoes be periodically replaced. For athletes, basketball shoes should be replaced every month for those playing 5 to 6 times a week and every 3 to 4 months for those playing 2-3 times a week.

Be pro-active about hydration: Even mild dehydration can keep an athlete from performing at his best during tryouts. Staying hydrated during the school day is particularly challenging because athletes often can't or don't remember to hydrate properly or regularly. Indeed, studies show, that many athletes are dehydrated before they even start their sport, making it difficult to catch up. Three things to remember about hydration: First, athletes need to be hydrated for sports, no matter the season or the weather. Even athletes exercising outside in cold weather get dehydrated. Second, water does not hydrate as effectively as a sport drink like Gatorade that is scientifically formulated with fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrates to rapidly replace what athletes lose in sweat and provide energy to keep them at the top of their game. And, third, remember that thirst is not a good indicator of hydration, so encourage athletes to drink on a schedule and teach this simple urine color test to determine hydration status.

Fuel Sports Nutrition gaps: The importance of proper nutrition and hydration in athletic performance is often overlooked, but cannot be stressed enough. Athletes need to be properly fueled before, during and after tryouts, especially multi-day tryouts, to get the most out of their bodies and perform at their best. Athletes typically have little time in the school day to eat before tryouts, so they start on an empty stomach or choose ineffective sources of fuel based on what's readily available. And there is often a time gap between the end of a practice or game and sitting down to dinner when, studies show; tired muscles need protein to recover to get ready for the next day of the tryout. Make sure your athlete has the right fuel when it's needed by packing scientifically developed sports nutrition products like Gatorade's G Series to provide the fuel, fluids and nutrients athletes before and during sports, and the fluid and protein they need to recover after a grueling day of tryouts.

Proper safety and sports equipment is key. Not having the right equipment could knock an athlete out of a tryout before it even starts. As competition for roster spots becomes more and more intense, the risk of injury from a flying elbow to the mouth or a finger poke to the eye increases. Making sure your young athlete has a mouth guard that will help keep them in the game.

Other J.A.M. Articles

The History of Denver Basketball | What every Coloradan should know
Free Basketball Tips for Young Players | Every aspect of the game
The Profound Influence of Youth Basketball | Why JAM and other leagues exist
What Chauncey Billups Means to Colorado | Why we're lucky to have him

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