How to Run a Successful Basketball Tryout

Basketball tryouts are always a tricky proposition. On one hand, you want to give every player a fair chance to make the team. On the other hand, you want to ensure that only the most talented and hardest-working players make the cut. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor.

By focusing on individual skills, decision-making, athleticism, and attitude, you can get a well-rounded picture of each player and make an informed decision about who makes the team. Here’s a closer look at each of these factors:

Individual Skills

Individual skills should give you a feel for a player’s ability to shoot, handle the ball and move athletically. While it’s tempting to evaluate shooting ability by counting how many times the ball goes through the hoop, pay more attention to form and consistency. If a player has good form but is having an off day, they’re still likely to be a valuable asset to your team. On the other hand, if a player with poor form is nailing everything they shoot, they’re not likely to be able to sustain that success over the course of an entire season.


To get a feel for decision-making, focus on small team drills, like 2v2 or 3v3. It’s tempting to go straight into scrimmage, but scrimmages in a competitive tryout can encourage hero-ball, and it becomes easy to lose track of players that end up with less touches. In smaller team drills, players will have an opportunity to have more touches. This will give prospects more opportunities to continue to showcase individual skills, but now with pressure. With more touches, we will also have ample opportunity to see players make decisions with the ball in their hands, but also off-ball. 

On the defensive end, with less players on the court, there is more space to guard. This will put more pressure on on-ball defenders, and also help highlight whether players are helping on off-ball defense.


Athleticism is important for any basketball player, but it’s especially important for those who don’t have natural shooting ability or strong ball-handling skills. Players who are athletic enough to outrun their opponents or jump higher than them can still be very successful even if they’re not scoring points left and right.

Focusing on athleticism lets coaches identify their highest potential prospects. When it comes to evaluating and selecting players, it is my preference to select a strong athlete with lesser ball skills, over a weaker athlete with strong ball-skills (assuming all other attributes are equal). This approach lets coaches develop their talent, and ultimately teams will have a much higher performance potential.


Finally, pay attention to the attitudes of your tryout prospects. A positive attitude is crucial for any team sport because it helps build camaraderie and ensures that everyone is working towards common goals. If you see players who are focused and working hard, even if they’re not the most skilled or talented players in the group, they’re likely to be good additions to your team.

Wrap Up

Running a successful basketball tryout doesn’t have to be complicated—if you focus on the right factors. By evaluating individual skills, decision-making abilities, athleticism, and attitude, you can get a well-rounded picture of each player and make an informed decision about who deserves a spot on your team. With this approach, you’ll be sure to put together a winning squad in no time!

Can Hoops Lab help to manage tryouts?

Absolutely! Hoops Lab can help you design your play and drill diagrams, develop a practice plan, and even keep you on track during the actual event. You can get started using our basketball play maker for free right here.

Looking for more help?

Breakthrough Basketball put together a nice list of drills to consider as you prepare for your upcoming tryout.

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