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Basketball Tryout Drills
and Practice Plan

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.

I've watched plenty of basketball tryouts that have been little more than 2 hour scrimmages. You 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.

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.

This is the general practice plan I use when running my tryouts:

Basketball Tryouts

A. Conditioning

You want your players to be in shape before you begin tryouts. I start all basketball tryouts with conditioning to 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.

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)

Suicides are inserted every 15 minutes or so throughout the Basic Skills section

B. Basic Skills

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 drills page).

C. Scrimmage

Look for everything here...

  • ability to lead
  • ability to get open
  • ability to screen and get others open
  • ability to rebound and to score

Check for attitude - does the player...

  • jog back on defense or hustle?
  • crash the boards or wait for the ball to come to him?
  • get upset when he doesn't get the ball, or continue to work the defense to get into a better scoring position?

And don't forget defense - can the player...

  • play tough man to man?
  • play with his feet, not with his hands? (i.e., does he move quickly to get in front of the man he's guarding, or does he try to grab their jersey as they run by him?)
  • does he help out when needed?
  • does he box out?

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.

Additional resources to help develop your basketball conditioning:

Better Basketball Coaching Pages & Resources
External Resources

Return from Basketball Tryout Drills for more on Basketball Practices

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"Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart."
- Phil Jackson

Want something more visual?

Check out UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills


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