​​5 common reasons why people get overlooked at tryouts​​

A basketball tryout is like a job interview. Being in the IT industry as well as playing basketball I have heard so many similarities of job candidates and basketball players (trying out) that have made one hell of a f%$k up that made the hiring manager or coach just cut them instantly. Is it a talent or skill thing? No, it’s an attitude thing.

Here are some stories from personal experience and coaches.

1. Don’t be soft

When I was training with the Tigers in the early 2000’s we had to get a new import as one of ours left to go to another team. During the preseason we had an import join us that just finished college in USA for Gonzaga. He killed the WCC conference. The Tigers were so excited about him and the buzz around the change rooms was something I had ever seen before. 

As per process with every pro basketball team, mandatory training and preseason games had to be played to see how he would fit the team. Something like a trial. Long story short, he failed really badly and was cut within a week of him joining the team. He had so much talent and came highly touted from the few seasons of basketball he played at Gonzaga. But he was, plainly put. SOFT! 

Coaches don’t like soft players. Even if for some reason they make the team during the season their minutes will be limited and or won’t be on court during crunch time. Moral of the story, during tryouts or anytime playing basketball, play hard. Don’t avoid contact on layups, take a charge and get on the floor for lose balls. This intensity will get you on teams and get you minutes.

I explain ways to help gain recognition on the court in my article How to be seen at basketball tryouts. This is an essential read if you have a tryout coming up.

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2. Negative body language

I have spoken to a few coaches about this and they all have a similar story to tell. Talented individuals that have negative body language when one of their team mates mess up or they themselves mess up. In a tryout this is a big no no. Dropping your head and not running back on D is a sure way of getting cut. Let me tell you a few stories coaches have shared with me.

I had a friend that I have seen grow up playing basketball since he was a little kid. He was of the age to go to college and he was more than talented enough to go play college in USA. Yet, he had no offers. I tried to help him out by speaking to a friend of mine that has sent a lot of kids on full ride scholarships to USA. But I was amazed to hear what he had to say.

Few month prior to me approaching the coach to help my friend both of them were involved in a preseason practice match here in Australia. The two teams played against each other. My coach friend was coaching one team and my player friend was playing on the other. The feedback I got about my player friend was “that kid has a bad attitude towards his team mates. I would never have him on my team”. Seems this player was bad mouthing his team mates and getting into arguments with them. Now I don’t know the circumstances around this but there’s a lesson to be learnt here. People watch games, recruits watch games. Play with a bad attitude you will get cut extremely quickly. Good coaches won’t stand for players that will upset the teams chemistry so if you are trying out. Lose the attitude and negative body language.

3. Running back on both ends of the floor

Ever played with players that are lightning quick on the fast break to try and score but slow getting back on D. Does it piss you off? It pisses me off immensely.

While writing this article I asked Dean Vickerman the head coach of the New Zealand Breakers what are some of his pet hates and not running back on both ends of the floor was right up the top of his list.

No coach wants a cherry picker. Scoring isn’t everything in a tryout. You are more likely to gain notice by making hustle plays than you are scoring baskets. My tryout with Guildford Heat was successful because of the passes I made. I hardly scored. I also played hard D and made a diving play to tap the ball away from a player that was on a fast break about to get an easy layup. This is probably why I got the email to inform me that I made the team even before I got home.

Running hard on both ends of the floor is a must. Doing it in a tryout you are going to get noticed especially if you get a stop. This is why it is super important to be very fit before you start the trials with any team. Get your body into condition!

4. The basketball fashion parade

First training session at Solano Community College (San Francisco USA), all the basketball players trying out for the team met in the foyer of the stadium. I thought this was so strange as I would have thought with about 50 people trying out for the team you’d want to meeting on the court; just for a little more personal space. The head coach busts into the room screaming telling people to line up in three lines like it was the military. What an opening, not even a hello or introduction. The coaching staff then started yelling at us all; instructing us to tuck in our singlets. Mind you this was the first tryout session and we didn’t have any uniforms. Then the coaching staff proceeded to go though our attire and all fashion accessories had to be removed. Torn shirts, removed. Headbands, removed. Wristbands, removed. There were players not wearing any tops as they were deemed unsuitable. This was all in the first 15 minutes of our first try out.

Another incident was when I was training with the team USA college team in Indiana. Because I had very long hair (past my shoulders) I used to wear a Du Rag. For those who don’t know what a Du Rag is here is a picture of Lebron James wearing one.

This, according to one of the assistant coaches from team USA was gang related and due to this I was told off so badly in front of all the players. I couldn’t even get a word in. I wanted to tell him I was from Australia and I wasn’t part of a gang. It was only after when I was thrown off the court that he understood.

Moral of the story, keep your attire to plain basketball clothing when trying out. Leave the fashion for all other times or maybe when you make the team. Like a job interview dress appropriately. First impressions last, don’t let something as trivial as what you are wearing be the blocker to making the team.

5. Getting subbed off

Another on of Dean Vickermans pet hates is the reactions some people have when you are subbed off. If you are frustrated about the situation it’s understandable, not all basketball tryouts are smooth sailing. However, if you get subbed off and you are demonstrative chances are you are not going to make the roster.

Negative comments about coaching or players and or negative body language when subbed off will get you attention. But the bad type of attention. Keep your emotions in check when walking off the court. Here’s a technique I learnt. When subbed off give people a high 5 that are around you. When on the sidelines take 5 long breathes; when exhaling release the negative emotion. This will keep you calm and not react in the moment.

The above 5 things to avoid when trying out is something you HAVE to take note of. If you have worked hard to get to a tryout the last thing you want to do is ruin your chances by doing any of the above. It pays to know what coaches look for. Particularly what they don’t like. Make a good impression and make the team. Please, learn from my person experience and the experiences from coaches.

Have you done the above in a tryout? How did it go for you? Did you get cut or did you still make the team? Please comment below and share your experience.

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