Basketball tryouts coming up? Here are 5 things you can do to make the squad this year

Making it through basketball tryouts can be a relief for some players and a source of frustration for the rest. You show up for days of brutal conditioning, drills and scrimmaging, only to be handed a jersey if you make the squad or be given some vague feedback on why you didn’t. If you find yourself in this second group, you’re probably not feeling very good about the world right about now. The good news is that you’ve now got a lot of free time on your hands and there are things you can do to become a better player if you’re willing to make a significant commitment and dedicate enough time and effort.

Here are five things you can do to reach your potential as a basketball player. Work hard enough and you’re guaranteed to have a better chance at making it through this year’s tryouts.

1. Jump Rope

Basketball is a sport that requires agility, quickness and endurance. Maybe you’re not lacking these things and maybe they won’t be the reasons you get cut. But maybe they will be. The point is that there aren't any coaches who say they don’t want more quick players on their team.

Jump ropes are relatively cheap and are a great way to improve agility and endurance. In fact, 10 minutes of jumping rope is about the same as running for 30 minutes. If you don’t have one already, buy this one and jump rope for 10–20 minutes every day.

2. Do Push-ups

Tune into any Super Tuesday game on ESPN this fall and you might notice any one of a number of things. You’ll see that some teams press full-court all game while others play exclusively half-court zone. Some teams run the dribble-drive offense while others have a set play for every situation. One thing that’s consistent: winning teams defend and rebound.

Playing defense and rebounding is essentially a bunch of one-on-one battles. These battles are imminently more winnable when you’re stronger than the player you’re matched up against. Push-ups are the perfect exercise to give you an edge because they strengthen the core of your body. You should make doing push-ups part of your daily routine.

Wake up: do push-ups. Finish breakfast: do push-ups. Class bell rings: do push-ups. You get the idea.

3. Take (and make) as many practice shots as possible

Put down the video game controller and get yourself to the gym. Bring a friend, join a rec league, start a club team, do whatever it takes to spend as much time in the gym as you can. The more shots you get up, the more dribbling drills you do, the more passes you make, the better you’re going to be. But don’t just go through the motions — remember that the people you need to beat out for a roster spot are practicing hard every day after school.

Think of it as an RPG: you need to level yourself up. Build up your weak-hand dribbling skills. Take 500 shots a day (seriously). Pwn some wall squats to improve your defensive stance. Modify your shot fake. Do not work on your celebrations. I repeat, do not work on your celebrations.

4. Cheer for Your Teammates

It might be difficult to show up to tryouts and root for the players you’re competing against for a spot on the team. If someone dives for a loose ball, help them up and pat them on the back. If another player makes a great play (even against if it’s picking your pocket) let them know that it was a great play and do your best to not let it happen again.

Show some enthusiasm and passion. Coaches love fiery players who can pick up their teammates even when things aren’t going the team’s way. You’ll probably learn something about the tendencies of the players, the coaching staff and the program based on how they respond to your positive energy. You’ll definitely show them that you’d be a great addition to the team.

5. Hit the Books

If you make a serious routine out of 1 - 4 and become the best player in school, it won’t matter if you’re academically ineligible.

Don’t neglect your studies. Even the best players retire at some point and no matter how long your career is, you don’t want to end up broke afterwards.

Reaching Your Potential

If you’re sincere in your pursuit of becoming a better player before this year’s tryouts, it’s going to require hard work. Thankfully, the Hustle app can help you find the right drills to work on so you can have the best shot at making the team. Download it here:

Matt Michaux