I'm assuming you already have at least a little bit of talent and that you work hard. However, whether you are a role player looking to get more minutes, an established "star" looking to get to the next level, or just looking to impress the coach during tryouts, here are 9 things you can do to help accomplish your goal.
1. Play with Passion
Most basketball coaches love the game (that's why they coach!) and they want to be around players who love it too. Enthusiasm, attitude, and competitiveness are all contagious. Encourage everyone on the court - even those who are going after your spot. Do everything with the highest level of energy possible. Clap, whistle, and lead the team in high fives! Project your inner Magic Johnson and be the teammate that everyone wants to have around.
2. Play Smart
It's much easier to teach a player how to improve their ball handling and defense than it is to improve their basketball IQ. Focus on how all the drills and offenses are supposed to be executed and develop the reputation of being a "quick learner." Since practice time is limited, all coaches want players who pick things up quickly because it saves time and makes things easier for everybody.
3. Pay Attention
When the coach is talking look him or her right in the eye and listen like your career depends on it! Ask appropriate questions so he will know you are listening and truly want to understand what he is talking about and explaining. Don't be afraid to speak up if he asks a question and you know the answer.
4. Be the Beast of the Gym
When it comes to playing be tough, hardnosed, scrappy, and physical. Box out hard, set hard screens, fight over screens hard, defend hard, run hard and go after every loose ball and rebound like it's a sack of hundred dollar bills. So few players approach the game like this anymore so if you play like a beast you will surely stand out and be noticed.
5. Be the First in Line
When drills are being demonstrated and run most kids are going to try and slip to the back of the line hoping they won't be noticed. Not you because you want to be noticed! You race to the front of the line! That way coaches will notice you both as a player and as a leader and you'll get in more repetitions which means more chances to look good.
6. Be in Better Shape than Everyone Else
It's plain and simple - the better shape you're in the better you're going to look - especially at the end of practice or on the second or third day of tryouts when everyone else is exhausted. By coming to tryouts in shape, the coaches will know you are serious about making the team and didn't just decide to try out at the last minute.
7. Talk on Defense
Coaches go to bed every night dreaming of having players talk on defense. Why? Because so few actually do talk! "I got #14," "Help this side," "Bring him my way," "I've got the lob," and "make him go left," are just a few examples of things you can say that will help you get noticed. Not only that but it will also improve your defense and give you an opportunity to show off your basketball IQ - all great things when you are trying to make the team.
8. Be Early & Stay Late
Not on time - early. In fact try to be the very first one there. Then when practice is over don't be the first one to rush out of the gym. Grab a ball and head to a basket and get some more shots up while everyone else heads out the door. Chances are the coach will come over and spend a few extra minutes working with you. Even if he just yells "Ok time to go!" at least he will know you are trying to get in as much work as possible and that you love being in the gym.
9. Talk to the Coach
Be a person not just a number. Ask him how you did and what should you have done better. After the tryout is over make sure you thank him for the opportunity and that you're looking forward to working with him. Coaches like drawing up plays and running practices but coaching is still relationship driven. All coaches want players they can talk to and relate to yet many young people don't take advantage of that. Let's face it, if a coach knows you and likes you then chances are you are going to get a closer look than a complete stranger will get.