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Your goal should be to ball out as best you can without worrying about the things that are out of your control.

Approaching Trials as a Young Athlete

Being trials month at the moment I figured I would share a few little tips for those of you heading into the thick of it over the next few weeks at trials.

Having been part of and leading many selection processes in the past there are a few insights which I think every player needs to be aware of if they want to do the best they can.

Firstly, dont get too caught up in stressing about what team you may or may not end up in and what that could potentially mean for your career. At the end of the day trials are about you finding out how you stack up vs the competition of your respective age group at this moment in time. Your goal should be to ball out as best you can without worrying about the things that are out of your control.

So howdo we do this?
  1. Effort – We should be putting in as much as we can, being true to yourself. Can you work harder? communicate more? contain your player better? box out and grab loose balls? You won’t showcase what you can do if you hold back and let others do the work for you.
  2. Contribute to your team winning – When you head into live games 3v3 / 4v4 / 5v5, show that you are willing to work with your teammates and contribute even when you do not have the ball. Coaches are pretty quick to pick up on people who move alot off-ball, those who will make cuts, set good screens and put themselves in good positions to set themselves and their team up to score. This goes for the defensive end too, if you can show yourself as a solid on ball defender, but then talk and nail off-ball help rotations this goes a long way.
  3. Communication – If you can nail this one you will stand out. At some point in most trials, particularly at young age groups, the coaches bring everyone in and have them on about talking more and then everyone goes back and starts yelling things. Be one who is consistent with this all the way through, but who also talks SMART. Communicate with your teammates the things that matter to game you are playing at the time – think strategic cues such as directives on screens (“screen left switch”), or help side (“Help’s left, bring him/her this way”). It’s about the specifics rather than the classic, “ball ball ball” & “help help help” which are often heard.
  4. Win your Match up – Everybody is going up against someone who is likely playing a similar role / position as them. In a trial setting, you have to win this match up. Then move up, and win the next match up and so on so forth. Coaches often pair guys they want to see play against each other – often to decide a particular spot on the team so whenever you play live, be sure to do your best to win the match up that you land.

At the end of the day, the selections are usually a pretty good reflection of how the trials went, so it is important that whatever team you land in for that season, you must do everything you can to help them be successful while pushing yourself to become a better player.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make the team you thought you would – there are many variables that happen at the youth level that dissipate by the time you reach adulthood. Keep working and enjoy competing!

All the best to you!

Catch you next time! - Coach Zac