Because age is such an important factor in how you run your tryout (if you’re a 3rd grade coach your tryout will look quite a bit different than a varsity coach) we’ve broken our tryout plans down into 3 main categories:
- Youth Basketball Tryout Plan (Grades K-5)
- Middle School Basketball Tryout Plan (Grades 6-8)
- High School Basketball Tryout Plan (Grades 9-12)
For elite youth and middle school teams, you may consider jumping up to the next level to better evaluate your players.
What’s included in each:
Regardless of age, each tryout plan is broken down into 3 main areas:
- Basketball Tryout Plan (pdf)
This is your “tryout rubric” or agenda. What do you do, when do you do it, and for how long?
- Basketball Tryout Drills (pdf)
What drills are best for evaluating your players?
- Basketball Tryout Evaluation Form (pdf)
How should you assess your players and their skills?
Tryouts are one of the most stressful and exciting times of the entire season for both you, the coach, as well as your players.
If this is a team that you’ve coached before, you’ll quickly notice that there are some kids that have made significant progress in their basketball abilities either because they’ve been improving their skills, they’ve grown taller or stronger, or hopefully both!
Depending on how many kids you have trying out and how many available spots are on the team, you should know coming in just how many cuts you’ll need to make.
For most coaches, me included, making cuts is one of the inevitable but least favorite parts of the job.
Every year, there are kids that work hard, are great kids, but just aren’t good enough to make the team. These are the most difficult cuts to make and are truly no fun.
So, the real question is, how do you make sure that you’re keeping the right guys that are going to make your team the most successful?
How do you decide between the skilled player with a terrible attitude and the unskilled player who is the hardest worker in the gym?
How about the player who is just skilled enough to make the team but doesn’t have much potential and the player who is oozing potential but just barely misses the cut based on current skill set?
Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily an easy answer. That’s why they’re paying you the big bucks!
While there isn’t a secret sauce, coming into things with a proper basketball tryout plan and consistent method for evaluating your players will help immensely.
In my first few years of coaching, I went into tryouts a bit disorganized and, since adopting the right tools for tryouts have found that not only is it easier for me to run tryouts, I feel much more confident in which players I ultimately make and keep.
Basketball Tryout Plan
My preference is to run tryouts as if it were practice #1. You likely only have a few weeks at best before your first game and preseason practice time is extremely limited.
What better way to evaluate your players than to get them started learning your offense, competing in defensive drills and, depending on what age your kids are, getting in a reasonable dose of conditioning drills as well.
Unlike all of practice, the one major difference that I recommend is to provide ample time for your team to play.
Drills are great for seeing individual skills, understanding who is fundamentally sound and who isn’t, and who can use some attention in specific aspects of the game but at the end of the day you want to see who can play.
Some players don’t look great in drills but thrive in a game, others are the opposite and look great in drills and not in a game.
Basketball Player Evaluation Form For Tryouts
Regardless of age, there are a few main areas that you’ll want to evaluate your players:
- Athletic Ability
- Game Play
There is also one key area that we recommend you NOT evaluate a player:
- His/her parents
Depending on age, this can be one of the hardest things to do.
In today’s day and age, for every polite parent who is willing to trust you as the coach there are 3 helicopter parents who know everything about basketball and more.
You’ll want to try your very best to evaluate the kids for their ability. Not the shortcomings of their parents.
Since the season is just getting under way, we do recommend spending some time with the parents though.
Just like you’ll want to set proper expectations with your kids on the first day of tryouts, you’ll want to set proper expectations with parents as well.
This is a relationship that you’ll want to control before the parents have a chance to.
Check out our free Dealing With Basketball Parents template on exactly how to handle parents.