If the basketball season has you itching to coach some hoops of your own, why not look into coaching a local school or select team?
Should you land a job with an elementary school, junior high, or select league team — high school coaching requires a few more credentials, so you’ll have to work your way up to that — the first thing you’ll need to do is hold tryouts. As a coach, you have the power to decide which players make your team and which shuffle away disappointed, so take this process seriously; you have the egos and feelings of young athletes in your hands.
Many school teams will not allow you to choose which players you want. They prefer an “anyone can play” approach to the game of basketball, and will require that you give each player relatively equal playing time.
You will need to seek out clarification on the rules regarding tryouts for school teams — speak with an athletic director or the principal. However, any select team will let you determine your own roster, giving you the opportunity to choose what kind of a team you want to run: offensive, defensive, aggressive, sharp-shooting, or some sort of mix.
You want the most talented players in your area, which means you’ll need to spread the word in an enticing way. When advertising your tryouts, make sure to be very clear on the dates and times of the tryout nights.
If possible, collect e-mail addresses or phone numbers of the parents whose children are interested in trying out; that way, if anything changes, you can contact everyone concerned and still have a strong turnout.
The best way to advertise is to get permission to put up flyers in the school (or various local schools, if you are a select coach) and ask members of other athletic groups to spread the word.
Having a solid plan for your tryout sessions is important to keep you and the kids on track. Plan out a range of drills that cover all areas of the game: shooting, passing, dribbling, play-running, rebounding, and any other you believe to be high in importance.
Clearly explain the drills and take note of who is paying attention to your instruction. During the activities, call out encouragement, and try to do so by name; this will help familiarize you with the players and their names, which gives good coaches an edge and elevates you in the eyes of your team.
Tryouts can be nerve-wracking for kids and parents alike, especially those families who have a lot of stake in athletic prowess. Handling the parents is one of the most important aspects of being a coach. You will encounter all sorts of temperaments in the mothers and fathers of the youngsters you coach, and it is up to you to handle them with patience and an even temper.
During the tryouts, ask the parents to please keep out of your way and let their children perform under your watchful eye, not theirs.
After you announce the results, you may be accosted by furious parents who believe you have something against their child. Reassure them that their young athlete can improve, and perhaps consider giving them some customized advice — what specific drills the child can do to have a better shot next year.
The best way to evaluate the results of your tryouts is to take notes on a chart as you watch. Make this chart ahead of time by deciding which traits are most important to you: attitude and character, offensive ability, defensive ability, knack for improvement, eye for the game, etc. Whatever you choose, stay consistent as you watch the athletes go about their drills, and try to give encouragement when you see those traits you want to coax out.
Additionally, take notes about the progress of the drills to jog your memory later. When you’re finished with the tryouts, take a look at the charts and choose the athletes who exhibit the highest totals of all your desired traits.