Youth Basketball: Selecting the Best Tryout Teams

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Sample tryout with 3 players competing for 3 travel teams and two tryout dates.

1st Tryout

RANDOM TEAMS: Unfortunately many tryouts use this method. It is certainly the easiest way to do and perhaps the best way if you have no knowledge of the players. Simply line up the players on the sideline by height and have players count off by the number of teams you will have. If you have more than one tryout, this method should only be used on the 1st day.

EVEN TEAMS: To give each player a new start to season, selecting teams with the goal of making them as even as possible is a great option. This method allows the evaluators a chance to see all players compete. With 6 teams of 5, it should be pretty clear who the stronger players and weaker players are.

SCHOOLYARD PICK: This is frowned upon in this day in age. It can lead to tears, being picked later in the process, even last, but a basketball tryout is a ranking system. There will be cuts. There will be MANY players who do not make the top level team. AND there will be many parents who will be consoling players once the final teams are announced.

2nd Tryout

PREVIOUS YEAR: This method may be a little more controversial, but as players get older more effective. Place the players on teams based on the previous season. For example, if a town had 3 leveled teams (A, B, C), have the players start with last year teams. This may appear to be unfair, however it is simply picking up where the teams left off last season. Obviously some players will have grown physically, worked on their games, and players will have moved in and out of town. The drawback to his method is parents may claim it is unfair to evaluate players for this season, based on last season.

TOP HALF / BOTTOM HALF (EVEN): At some point during the tryout, players will need to be ranked. Using the 1st tryout and the previous season divide the players into two groups. This will give the evaluators a good starting point to see if any player is misplaced. This also allows the evaluators to focus on the correct placement of half the team, instead of the entire team. Divide both groups evenly into 3 teams per half and allow the top half teams to scrimmage each other and bottom half teams scrimmage each other.

TOP HALF & TOP 5 / BOTTOM HALF & BOTTOM 5: This is a great grouping for the last tryout. Once it becomes clear who the best 5 and worst 5 players are, it might be a good idea to have these players on the same team. (The top 5 players will be placed on the A team and the bottom 5 players will be placed on the B team.)Coaches no longer need to evaluate these players and these teams can be used as a measuring stick for the remaining players.

The remaining 10 players in each half should be divided into even teams. Everyone in the gym will agree who the top 3 – 5 players are. It is nice for these players to play together and let the players (and parents) see this is who the players are competing against. The remaining two teams (in each grouping) will be matched against each other and all evaluators should be watching this game closely. They also will play against the top 5 or bottom 5. This will provide the evaluators several chances to see is the assessments are accurate and who of the “other 10 players rise to the occasion.

Evaluators should start to add to the top 5 until the A team is complete as well as the bottom 5 until the C team roster is filled.

FINAL TEAMS / KEY MATCH-UPS: At some point a decision needs to be made and players need to be placed. If there are a few players who are “on the fence,” these players should be match-up against each other.

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