There are only a limited number of spots on the team. How can you guarantee you’ll make it?
The key is demonstrating to the coach that you’re the kind of person he needs on his team. Then it doesn’t matter if your skills aren’t up to par yet.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior, if you follow the advice below, you’ll make the team.
Here’s the process that you should follow to ensure you become what the team needs:
Make Your Varsity Basketball Team
Let’s take a look at each step in turn.
Many people understand that you have to assess yourself, but you also have to assess the current varsity basketball team and what the varsity coach wants and needs.
This is the part where you have to be brutally honest with yourself.
What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
Do you have a height, weight, or size advantage over other people on the team?
If you’re naturally tall, you have a better chance of making the team, and if you’re short, you’ll have to work harder.
If you played basketball this year, talk to your coach and ask him what you need to work on during the off-season.
Think back to the games you played and figure out why you were put into the game, or why the coach took you out.
Did the coach always put you in to play defense? To score? To lead the team?
Did the coach take you out because you committed too many turnovers? Didn’t pass the ball? Took a dumb shot?
You have to be completely honest with yourself because otherwise, this doesn’t work.
Write down all the things you’re good at, all the things you’re not as good at, and whether you have any advantages or disadvantages compared to the others on the team.
Also write down the comments that your coach made about what you need to improve on.
Don’t listen to your teammates at this point because they’re not the ones who get to decide if you play or don’t play.
At this point you should have something like this:
Great mid-range jumper
Fast on the court
Terrible 3-point shot
No post game
Average at free-throws
Get lazy on defense
Coach said I need to play smarter and look for the extra pass
Coach usually puts me in when our guards keep turning over the ball and can’t handle the pressure.
Fast on the court
Now that you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you need to figure out what next year’s varsity team needs.
Look at the current seniors who will be leaving the team. Note their roles on the team. Were they there for defense? Scoring? Something else?
Talk to the varsity coach and tell him that you’re planning on trying out for the team next year and ask if there’s any pieces to the puzzle that the team is missing.
The coach might tell you that the team needs a great passer, defender, or something else.
Even if the coach ends up not saying anything “useful,” it’s still valuable because it shows the coach that you care.
Write down the roles of the people the team will have next year and try to figure out if there’s anything missing.
For example, you might notice that the team has 4 people who want to be high scorers, but no great defenders or passers.
That means that you have a very easy way of making the team: improve your defense and passing!
Putting It All Together
After you do the assessment you have to figure out what it is the team needs and whether you’re already good at it.
If the team badly needs a great defender (which most teams do), and you are a lock-down defender, then you’re in a great position.
If you improve your defense even more while getting better at a secondary skill that the team needs, the coach will love to have you on the team!
Once you figure out what it is that you have and what the team needs, you gotta start working hard.
You should train every day, and you should spend 75% of the time developing the key skill that will allow you to make the team, and 25% of the time on polishing your other skills and making sure that you don’t get worse.
The Key Skill That All Coaches Love
There is one skill that is nearly guaranteed to get you a varsity spot.
Many people can play good defense. Some people can even play great defense. But most people can’t play great defense all the time.
That’s the key.
Coaches want players who are able to shut-down the best player on the opposing team, and who they know they can count on.
Most coaches love the peace of mind of knowing that they have someone who will go out there and play defense until he falls down from exhaustion.
If you want to make the team and you’re not amazing at anything else, you need to become a defensive beast.
It’s important that the varsity coach sees you improve and work hard. If your high-school offers a summer basketball camp you should sign up, and be the first one to come and the last one to leave.
If there is no basketball camp, you can talk to one of the current varsity players about organizing “open gym” practices at the high school where people can come to play and practice.
You don’t need to be the one to organize it, and you can let the varsity player take all the credit for it. What’s important is that you come to all of the open gyms early, leave late, and work hard while you’re there.
Every 3 months you should re-assess yourself and figure out where you stand compared to all of the other players you’re competing against.
You might now be able to guard everyone on the team, and now you realize that you need to also be able to score if you want playing time.
Maybe you realize that you can shoot from anywhere, but now you need handles to get you to different spots on the court.
Whatever it is, the most important thing is to constantly improve.
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