Coaches look for four things during basketball tryouts:  translatable skills, athleticism, action, and attention to detail. Each component is significant on its own, but its relevance is amplified when these aspects are combined to form a competent basketball player. The basketball tryout drills chosen must enable the coach to evaluate each player’s defensive and offensive skill sets and how physically strong they are and see how each player interacts within a team.

Types of Basketball Tryout Drills Each Coach Must Conduct

Any coach understands the pressure that comes with conducting tryouts. Despite age, level, or skill set, selecting a chosen number of players to comprise your team will be one of the most challenging choices you will have to make as a coach. That is why one needs to have an efficient basketball training plan that will enable one to decide efficiently.

Dribbling Drills

As a basketball coach, you want the ball to move, and you want players to take the ball up against pressure for a great basketball offense. This is only possible if you have players who are efficient in handling the basketball. Here are two basketball tryout drills for dribbling you can apply:

Crossover dribbling: This stationary dribbling variance entails passing the ball in reciprocating motion between the player’s two hands.

55-second Drill: Up to six players begin on the baseline, and each one will run four times up court and back in 55 seconds; the transition is as follows:

  • Dribble to the other side of the court with the right hand, back to the other side using the left
  •  Dribble up court making two moves, and the same going back
  •  Simulate movement doing number 8 going up the court and back while dribbling
  •  Have a second ball, dribble up court and back with two balls (alternating)

Do you want to improve your basketball skills to have more chances to get chosen?

Passing Drills

The swifter the ball moves, the more the defense has to adjust, resulting in possible mishaps. Everything from ball reversals to drives and kicks passing out of a ball screen can add more value to an offense. Each player’s capacity to pass the ball concisely and with proper technique will have a significant impact on the flow and efficacy of your offense. Two drills you can use for evaluating passing skills are:

Four-Ball Partner Pass: Pair up players. Set up the players 3 to 5 feet apart from their partner. Each must have two balls. Begin by rhythmically dribbling all four balls at the same time. Then, shout “switch. “Partner 1 will bounce pass the ball to Partner 2’s right hand with his left hand. Partner 2 will bounce pass the ball to Partner 1’s right hand with his right hand. During the swap, proceed dribbling the second ball. When finished, say “switch!” and start over. Do this for a total of 30 seconds.

Two-Ball Quick Passing Drill: Start with groups of four or five players. A passer is about 6 feet away from the line of receivers. The passer and one of the receivers both have a ball. On “Go,” the passer swiftly passes to any receiver, and the receiver who possesses the ball sequentially passes back to the passer. The passes continue to any receiver who is not in possession of the ball. Perform as many chest passes as possible in 60 seconds, then rotate.

Shooting Drills

A player’s ability to shoot using a range of methods makes it more difficult for the defense to guard him. Also, players with excellent shooting skills get a lot of quality reps helping the team win. Shooting drills are also good to test their mental toughness. A player must have the skills and mental toughness to step up and make shots under pressure.

Quick Shooting Drill: Set up seven cones in a half-circle with a distance of about 15 feet away from the ring.  One player begins by shooting at one of the cones. The player must be able to rebound and dribble straight to the nearest cone to shoot again. Repeat this drill for 1–2 minutes.

Lay-up Drill: Assemble all of the players at the far baseline behind one another. The first player at the front of the line has possession of the ball. Upon hearing the whistle, this player should dribble as quickly as possible up the court and lay up on the left side of the ring.  The player then rebounds and quickly dribbles back to the other side of the court, where they finish with a layup on the right part of the ring. This pattern of play can last up to two minutes. When a player’s time is up, they pass the ball to the next person in line.

Defense Drills

Defense makes the difference. For basketball players good with defense, it earns the team more playing time.  Through defense, the team minimizes the opponent’s possession time, shooting attempts, and shooting percentage per possession of the opposing team. A great place to start is on the defensive end of the court.

Defensive Slide Drill: Set up cones in a zig-zag pattern, with about 15 feet between each cone. Upon the coach’s whistle, teams play a defensive slide by doing short steps from the first cone to the second without crossing their legs, then spin 180 degrees and defensive slide going to the next cone—time each player to evaluate speed. If a player crosses his or her feet or falls, the player must redo the drill.

One-on-One Full Court Drill: On one end of the court, form a line of players. Allow the first player in line to turn and pass the ball to the second player. The first player takes a defensive position, while the second player places the ball on the floor and tries to get past the defender.


Scrimmage means a simulated game environment where you can see all basketball tryout drills come in action. In-game action is the most effective way to put athletes’ offensive and defensive skills to the test. Different varieties of scrimmages can be used during tryouts to accomplish this. Players can compete for one-on-one, small groups during a three-on-three scrimmage or in a full five-on-five scrimmage. These games can demonstrate how players react in real-time. Apart from evaluating each player, it is a good way to develop team chemistry and see how your lineup can look like.

Build a Competent Team with the Right Basketball Drills

Apart from using basketball tryout drills to select the most competent players for your season’s roster, you can use these drills to train them to play more effectively. Drills that you run during basketball practice or tryouts and with your players should be intended to prepare and rehearse the skill sets that the team needs to have to win games based on your system of play. Players should feel as if they are playing basketball rather than just running drills during practice.

13 steps to getting recruited for college basketball


Do you have goals to play at the college level, but don't have the recruitment you want or need to get there? Or maybe you have some recruitment, but it's not at the level you dream of playing at? 

Having a blueprint of the exact steps you need to take your recruitment to the next level will help you find your missing piece and create a clear path to your goals.

Take control of your future with this 13 Step Checklist to Increase Your Recruitment - written for serious players by Coach Watts who was a D-1 and pro standout and has helped hundreds of players like you earn a college scholarship!

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