How students should prepare for tryouts



Coach Pattino leads basketball practice. Players practice through the 7th period to after school in the senior gym.

Players practice shooting the ball. Preparation has been increased in light of the upcoming basketball season.
Coach Q gives constructive criticism during drills. Players are put in different groups to practice different skills. (ALEX LE//THE SCROLL)

Sweat dripping, hearts thumping and balls flying, players work hard to stand out. The question asked by many students: what can be done to increase the chances of getting on the team? The answer is more than just hard work.

Before trying out for a sport, one should consider their previous experience and general knowledge. Without it, it is hard to compete with other players who may be more experienced or skilled.

“If it’s your sport that you’re interested in, then you probably have been playing through middle school before you got here,” Tommy Warren, head girls’ basketball coach, said. “The preparation is you already have to have some experience playing. It’s tough if you come in with no experience.”

Most sports have summer conditioning where players exercise, meet potential teammates and coaches and perfect their sports’ skills. Tryouts during the school year are meant to be opportunities for students who had no idea about the school’s sports program. Although these students are trying out late, they still have a chance to make the team.

“If they show the ability to define [good] characteristics, then, there’s a possibility they can make the team,” Warren said.

It can be jarring to walk into tryouts and see the immense amounts of people who also wish to make the team. However, once that initial feeling wears off, students can perform to the best of their ability.

“It’s a little intimidating,” Jeff Blumberg (10) said. “There were a lot of people there, maybe 50 to 60. But it was also enjoyable. We got to do drills and stuff, play against each other and practice passing. As soon as that nervousness wears off, it’s just a really good time and good atmosphere.”

Stress is a big factor in tryouts. Practicing in a high-stakes environment can help players deal with these situations better. Coaches want to see how players play in these situations to see if they could handle intense games.

“There’s that what-if factor: ‘If I didn’t make the team then what would I do?’” Abney said. “I’ve known people that have been playing on a certain team their whole life, and they don’t make tryouts. That’s [like] really scary to me, to think that I wasn’t good enough for the sport that I loved and enjoyed.”

Students are given the option of open gym which can provide the feeling of a high-stakes tryout experience with no consequences. It is important for players to utilize all their resources to improve in their sport, whether they are preparing for tryouts or merely aiming to improve their skills.

“Before the basketball tryouts, they had these open gyms, which were like no-stress tryouts where we could just size up what it was going to be like,” Blumberg said. “Those were fun and stress-free environments that made me want to come back.”

Not only can students practice at school, but Memphis offers a variety of teams and clubs for young, dedicated athletes. Players are also encouraged to hone their skills before tryouts by practicing and training alone.

“[Club soccer] has given me a lot of outside experiences and helped me be ready for practices,” Abney said. “It just helps me be better as a whole. I feel more prepared when I practice on my own too.”

Outside camps or teams also can teach you lessons that apply in every sport —  not just how to dribble or shoot the ball, but also structure and how to refine skills already present. Experience such as this can additionally be helpful beforehand.

“[Outside teams] have given me a good work ethic, shown me how to practice, when to try my hardest and push my limits,” Blumberg said. “They’ve just taught me how to be a better overall sport.”

Coaches want to find players who are motivated and willing to put in the effort. It is crucial for players to show their commitment and enthusiasm for their sport as they practice drills, play a scrimmage or focus on the coach’s instructions.

“Good character [is important],” Warren said. “Someone who is going to have effort, because you can’t coach effort. You either have it or you don’t.”

Passionate players will stand out from other candidates, and without it, players may struggle to make the team.  

“Make sure that’s your passion.” Warren said. “Make sure that is something you want to do. Make sure that’s something you don’t mind putting your time and effort that it takes to improve on a skill that you already have.”