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Basketball Tryout Evaluations
Using Stations to Help you Pick the Best Team

One of the difficulties with running basketball tryout sessions is trying to quantify player performance - other than tracking the normal game stats (baskets made, assists, turnovers, rebounds) in scrimmages, how do we attach a number to player performance that is meaningful and helps us decide who gets cut and who gets to wear the basketball uniforms?

Basketball skills, as I have written elsewhere in what to look for in basketball tryouts, really shouldn't be the biggest concern when choosing the team during basketball tryouts. Qualities like attitude and hustle and teamwork are really more important, since it is easier to teach skills than it is to teach attitude and work ethic. But we also shouldn't discount skills, especially when we have many players that show up with these other qualities like hustle and so forth. Skills level can be the deciding factor and if nothing else, evaluating skills during tryouts will let you know what to expect when pre-season practice sessions begin.

Here's one relatively simple way to evaluate skills during basketball tryouts: stations. Be sure to scrimmage and to run drills and conditioning and so on, but using the following stations during tryouts will help you evaluate the skills level of your players so you can make more effective choices when deciding on the team.

I wouldn't use stations in the first tryout session - use the first session to take a look at the players you have to choose from, introduce the skills they will be assessed on when they run the stations in the next session by teaching the skill and then running some quick drills, and then check out their conditioning levels before letting them scrimmage. If you want to give them a really good conditioning workout, you could try to put them through part of the Truth About Quickness program, or simply choose a few drills from the basketball conditioning drills page (I like the Circuit in particular as it involves skills as well as conditioning and really makes players work. But leave the stations for the second tryouts, once you have been able to get organized.

Just a quick word of warning: this is an excellent way to quantify basketball skills, which is particularly useful when evaluating during tryouts, but you need to be organized. Preferably you want to have a manager or someone helping you at each station to record results and to keep things running smoothly; otherwise, it will quickly become a mess.

Organizing Basketball Tryouts: Preparing for Stations Work

Break the players into eight groups, set each group at one of the following stations, and then have them complete the station one at a time. You control the timing - I have the drills run for 30 seconds, though you could go longer if you wanted - blowing the whistle to start and finish, and everyone switches at the same time. When every member of each group finishes the station, all groups rotate to the next station. Eventually everyone will complete every station.

Evaluating Basketball Tryouts: The Stations


Lay ups

From the foul line, players dribble the ball to the hoop on the right side, make the layup; get their own rebound and dribble out to the foul line; dribble to the hoop on the left, make the layup; get their own rebound and dribble out to the foul line; repeat, right then left
players get 1 point for each basket made

Shuffle and Pass

Place two pieces of tape about six feet apart, ten feet from a wall; players start with one foot on either side of one piece of tape, facing the wall, with a ball in thier hands; on the whistle, the player passes the ball off the wall while at the same time shuffling along to the other piece of tape; at the second piece of tape, the player changes direction and shuffles back again; repeat
players get 1 point each time a foot is outside the tape

Spot Passing

On a wall, about four feet from the floor, use tape to create a square of about 18 inches on each side; about three feet to the side of this square, create another one, about a foot lower (i.e., about three feet from the floor); players set up ten feet from the wall, and use a chest pass to pass into the square on the left, and a bounce pass to pass into the square on the right
players get 1 point for each pass that hits inside a square

Jump Shots

From about fifteen feet out, players shoot jump shots; have them move about the floor so they don't shoot from the same spot all the time; shooters get their own rebound and dribble out past the foul line for the next shot
players get 3 points for each basket made

Drop Step

Standing on the block, with his back to the basket, the player executes a strong drop step and makes the power layup; player gets his own rebound, hustles across the key, and performs a drop step and power layup on the other side; repeat, moving right then left
players get 1 point for each basket made

Cone Dribbling

Lay six cones out in a straight line, about 6 feet from each other; players dribble around the cones as fast as they can, circling the final cone and repeating the process on the way back to the starting point; repeat, retaining control
players get 1 point for each time they pass a cone

Defensive Shuffle

Place two shallow boxes about ten feet apart; in each box place two whiffle balls; players start at one box, and at the whistle, pick a ball up from the box and slide across to the second box; the player palces the ball in the second box and picks up another ball, sliding back to the first box and placing that ball in the first box; repeat, staying in proper defensive stance
players get 1 point for each ball they place in a box


From outside the key, the player tosses the ball high against the backboard so that the rebound will land on the other side of the key; the player immediately sprints across the key and jumps for the rebound, landing with two feet outside the key on the other side of the court; repeat, right then left
players get 1 point for each time both feet land outside the key

I use these stations during basketball tryouts because they get in all the major skills - shooting, ballhandling, passing, rebounding, defense. You can use stations at any point in the pre-season and change up the drills and focus according to what you want to work on.

Well organized, these stations will take probably about 40 minutes to complete, depending on your numbers - more players, longer times. But it does help you be more specific when you sit down at the end of the day and try to evaluate your basketball tryout session - and it gives you something concrete to consider when you are trying to decide who gets to wear the coveted basketball shirts.

Return from these Basketball Tryout Evaluations for more ideas for Basketball Practices

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