Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Drills "Belong" in Tryouts?

Tryouts have inherent limitations, especially time. Both players and coaches want a "fair" evaluation and a selection process not based on favoritism or politics. I certainly don't have "the way" and always look for "a better way." 

We choose what we want to measure and our beliefs about how to measure it. 

Tryouts must be age appropriate. Testing three-point shooting in sixth grade girls isn't likely to prove much. 

Time constraints demand a fast tempo and simplicity. Action takes priority over lecturing. 

In Carl Pierson's excellent book, The Politics of Coaching, he includes (for high schoolers) speed, strength, and vertical jump testing. Objectivity helps differentiation. 

Observation yields impressions of size, athleticism, skill, and intangibles (attitude, decision-making, effort, toughness). Many younger girls (I've always coached girls) are reluctant to communicate, to lead, or to embrace contact. 

What skills do we want to see and how can we best measure them? I wish I had that perfected. 

Physical and mental toughness are skills and hard to measure, especially in a couple of hours. 

This review suggests 15 basketball tryout drills

"You're not Kyrie." I discourage "dribbling the air out of the basketball." I want to evaluate players' capacity to space, pass, cut, and screen. Defensively, I want to assess ability to pressure the ball and understand off-the-ball defensive principles. In middle school girls, both are works in progress. 

Here are five I like and my rationale. I'm still thinking about using "shell drill." 

1. Three dribble layups from half-court. When my daughters tried out for middle school AAU, the coach tested TWO dribble layups from half-court. That was ugly for 6th graders. This tests maneuvering speed, dribbling, and finishing. It's all relative. 

2. Full-court five on five, no dribble. Can you pass and cut, move without the ball, pressure the ball? I also will want to watch some four on four half-court with only one dribble per player. 

3. Dribble tag inside the arc...test with both dominant and non-dominant hand. 

4. Three lines, two balls. 

Pass and cut, with no traveling (right). Outside passers dribble with their outside hand. This tests passing and movement. 

5. UCONN shooting. 

I'm asking a friend and former coach to act as another set of eyes. I want to get a look at "bulk" shooting (off the catch)...I expect maybe twenty girls to run the drill at both ends. I've already been warned to expect no height...

I'd love to hear your suggestions. 

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