That Was Your Tryout

Written by MIKE MACKAY (High Performance Manager, Women’s High Performance Program, Canada Basketball)

Mike MacKay

As I travel around the country I often get asked by players, coaches and parents when tryouts are for our age group National Teams. In a country the size of Canada having a one day tryout is a very difficult thing to do. I try to explain that you never know when and where the tryout is occurring.

This past summer our Junior National team was having a shoot around in preparation for an exhibition game with another country. It was early in the morning and many of the players were not too excited about having to be up that early. The shoot around took place and it was not one of the better performances by the players. After the shoot around the basketball coach pulled the players together and told them that they he was disappointed in their performance. He also asked if any of them knew who the gentlemen were, that were sitting off to the side when practice was taking place. The answer was no. The coach proceeded to tell them that they were all NBA scouts.

That they had just had their first tryout for the NBA and first impressions are hard to change. Needless to say we never had another poor shoot around. Anytime a stranger walked in the gym; the players assumed he must be another NBA scout and did not want to have another bad tryout.

Too much stock is put into the one day formal tryout.

If a players scores some points in a tryout everyone assumes he should be on the team. Players, coaches and parents need to understand that every time a player walks on to the court eyes are watching and conducting a tryout. Tryouts also occur off the court. The behaviour of a player before and after the game is just as important as the performance on the court

  • How a player handles being subbed. How he sits with his teammates on the bench.
  • When a player shows up late for a training session, this is part of the tryout.
  • When a basketball player decides to sub him/her self out of a drill this is part of a tryout.
  • When a player does not touch the lines in a conditioning drill, this is part of a tryout.
  • When a player misbehaves in a hotel room on the road, this is part of the tryout.

All of these little details go in to a tryout.

Players must take responsibility for their actions at all times. I know from experience that I would never pick a team, that I was going to travel over night with, if I did not first have those players stay overnight in a residence situation, over which I had supervision. I wanted to know how they handled meal time, bed time, meeting time, practice time and all the time in between. They had to know that tryout time was all the time.

#thankthepasser: Mike Mackay has singlehandedly been the biggest influence on my coaching philosophy. Here’s more from Master MacKay.