Basketball Tryout Drills
Drills that Showcase Basketball Skills

Basketball tryout drills need to be chosen with the end in mind - that is, identifying players with the skills you need, and with the potential to be a good addition to the team. A lot of time and effort goes into organizing an effective tryout session, and that's the way it should be - this is your chance to choose the group of players that will become your team for the season, and you want to make it count. And it is the drill you choose to run in tryouts that help you evaluate their basketball skills.

I've watched plenty of basketball tryouts that have been little more than 2 hour scrimmages. And you do want to see how the players perform in game situations, but you also want to see their basic skill levels - some players may have good skills or potential, but be unsure how to use them in a game. These players can be worked with to become good game players, but you won't find that out without running some appropriate basketball drills.

Other tryout sessions I've seen use basketball tryout drills that are too advanced for players that haven't already had substantial coaching - which will weed out a lot of players that may have good skills and potential, but be unfamiliar with these drills.

So, in general, you want a variety of basketball drills, many that are fairly simple to follow, and a few that are a little more complex. You want to give every player the opportunity to show their skill level, and you want to challenge them a little as well to see who can rise to the top, who can adapt and learn quickly.

These are some suggested basketball drills to use when running your tryout:

Basketball Tryout Drills

You want your players to be in shape before you begin tryouts; starting basketball tryouts with conditioning will help you find out who was working out over the summer, who was preparing for the season. How a player handles these conditioning exercises indicates not only the physical condition they are in, but their attitude and eagerness to be on the team as well.

Run these drills at the beginning of practice.

Basketball Tryout Drills for Conditioning

  • 5 minutes laps, jogging
  • 2 minutes dynamic stretching
  • 4 minutes 30-30 drill (alternate 30 secs jog, 30 secs at 90% sprint)
  • 30 seconds defensive slide from one side of key to the other (keep track of how many times the player crosses the key - individually)

Have them run Suicides a few times throughout the session, and time them - a goal to break should be about 25 seconds at the varsity level, a little more than that at junior varsity.

Basketball Tryout Drills

You want players with good fundamental skills, of course, and older players with bad habits will be tough to break. But keep in mind, fundamental basketball skills can be taught. Ideally, you would like those skills to be already embedded, but in the end, athletic ability will be a bigger positive for a player than basketball skills.

The drills below will indicate skill as well as athletic ability.

Basketball Tryout Drills for Basic Skills

If you want more drills than these, there are plenty of others spread throughout the site, or you can check out Coach Derek Kellogg's eBasketballdrills program for many more. Choose drills that focus on basic fundamental skills. You may also want to consider using stations (how these are used in tryouts is explained in more detail on the basketball tryout evaluations page).

And then, after you have run your skills drills, have them scrimmage - 3 on 3, 5 on 5 - so you can see their ability to apply these skills to the game.

Use a variety of basketball drills such as these to gauge the skill levels of your players. Watch and take notes - who is able to handle the drills the best? Who struggles at first but becomes better in the 2nd or 3rd sessions?

The basketball tryout drills you choose to use during these practices need to be challenging, but they need to be reasonable. And they need to do what you need done: showcase player strengths - basic skills and attitudes, and in game situations.

"Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart."

- Phil Jackson

Looking for something more visual?

Try UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills