How to Stand Out in a Basketball Tryout

By Julianna Fabrizio

The many youth sports seasons are upon us, bringing with them something that kids everywhere stress about: tryouts. Everyone has nerves when it comes to trying out for a sports team, whether it’s their first time or if they’ve been doing it for years.

Four basketball coaches from elementary school level to college provided tips for a successful tryout.

Macky Bergman, a native New Yorker founded Steady Buckets, a free program based in Lower Manhattan, said coaches always like to see kids trying their hardest and added that those trying out shouldn’t feel that they have to be perfect. “A lot of kids focus on making a shot. They think if they miss they are having a bad tryout, or if they make it they are having a good tryout. Coaches know that kids never make all of their shots,” Bergman explained. “Even if you miss every shot you take, if you follow through and show good form, the coach will still be impressed,” he said.

Being prepared for a tryout means more than just practicing skills. For Philip Fisher, who coaches boys varsity basketball at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, organization is key. He mentioned that it is important that all paperwork and forms be submitted on time for the tryout. “It would be helpful if players made contact earlier with the coach so that they know that they have a real interest,” Fisher said. He added that, “players need to be good citizens during tryouts, meaning they should be good teammates, and not act like it’s all about them.”

Mike Finnen is the Co-Founder of the East Side Escalades, a program for 4th-12th graders. “I’m looking for the kid who hustles, the kid who has played basketball before and has experience, and the kid who has a good attitude, follows directions, and always pays attention,” explained Finnen. He also noted was that it is equally important for kids to work as hard as they can when playing defense as it is for them to be a good shooter in the tryouts. “It might not be your day, so you may not make your shots. Tryouts are one day and you can’t rely entirely on offense,” he said.

Many agreed that being fit is important to standing out during a tryout. “Basketball is a rigorous sport and you need to have your body in tip top shape. This is a way to really impress the coaches and show your dedication,” noted Veronica Mullen, the director of women’s basketball operations at St. John’s University. Mullen, who also helps run the Joe Tartamella girls summer basketball camps and clinics at St. John’s University, added that coaches are analyzing more than players’ skills. “Coaches want to visually see that you hustle, as well as your attitude, and enthusiasm for the game. If these are poor, they will immediately turn away,” she said. Finnen echoed the need to be in shape. He recommended the Syracuse Basketball Running Program as a good way to do so. Coaches also like to see players take initiative when playing basketball. Being quiet is not beneficial to any player during a tryout. “Communicate throughout the tryout. Basketball requires everyone on the court to communicate, calling out screens, defense, offense, etc. You need to have a positive voice in order to help assist your teammates,” Mullen said.

Julianna Fabrizio is a member of our team of junior journalists. She is a 9th grader at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.

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Great job by this young journalist. It was very helpful to read the advice and perspectives of the different coaches. Good info for athletes.

Comment by Karenspad on November 8, 2015

Very informational! I enjoyed hearing different coaches perspective.

Comment by tdigregorio on October 18, 2015

I really enjoyed reading this article! You provided really great tips on trying out for a basketball team. It was really interesting to read the quotes you included in the article. They helped me gain a better perspective of the skills many coaches are looking for. It is great to know that dedication and positive attitude are important qualities. Great article!

Comment by on October 17, 2015

A very interesting article. The four coaches although coaching different age groups have similar perspectives on what type of players they are looking for. The article should help any athlete trying out for a team to understand what is important in the coaches eyes.

Comment by KTByrne on October 15, 2015

Inspiring article! I can tell that you put a lot of effort into gathering a variety of coaching perspectives on tryouts. Four coaches from completely distinct backgrounds? Now that’s the essence of journalism!

Comment by DanielJohn on October 14, 2015

Good information. I enjoyed all the insightful comments from the interviews. Great article.

Comment by Mbyrne on October 14, 2015

I really appreciated the information about factors other than raw athleticism that can help any athlete to do well in a tryout. These factors probably would also be ways for players of any age to improve their overall game. A good attitude definitely helps a person to perform better, both on and off the court. All of these coaches from a variety of levels say the same thing. This wide range of sources is really informative!

Comment by MFabrizio14 on October 13, 2015

It is always challenging to stand out at a basketball tryout. Reading the advice of four coaches is very beneficial. Great article.

Comment by nmfabrizio on October 13, 2015

What an informative article! It’s good to know that coaches on all levels value good sportsmanship and hustle

Comment by Tbry7 on October 13, 2015

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