One of the toughest jobs that a coach has to do is select his players from a large pool of those trying out. This is not only a stressful time for the players and parents but, for the coach as well. When a player is not selected, you are basically telling him that he is not good enough.
As a coach, you have to keep one thing only in mind, your team. You job is to select the players that will work together as a team. In 1984. Charles Barkley was trying out for the United States Olympic team then coached by Bob Knight. During drills and practice scrimmages, Charles was a one man machine. He was doing it all. He went on to become one of the top 50 players to ever play in the NBA. Still he did not make that team. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a good player, he was. However, Coach Knight was looking for the players that could jell together as a group. Does that mean that Charles was a trouble maker? No he wasn’t. He just didn’t fit into Knights idea of what he wanted his team to look like.
Coaching Basketball for thirty years, I also faced similar situations. However, mine were not on the same level as Coach Knight. There are many considerations to understand when you are selecting your team. Here are just a few of them.
1. How many uniforms do you have? Remember according to new rules today, you have to have a blood jersey that a player can switch to.
2. Does your school board limit the number of players in your program or do they make you keep them all?
3. Do you have one team or two?
4. What type of offense or defense are you going to run?
5. What is your personnel like? Do they get along well? Do they have big ego’s?
6. Can you get a good balance of players? Size and skill wise.
These are the major considerations. But, there are also minor considerations as well. Do you have a player that shows a lot of heart and hustle but, lacks the skills? Some players like this are worth their weight in gold to you. Do you have a strong leader who lacks skills? Do you have a player that has all the skills but, nobody can get along with? Is your bosses child trying to make the team? Is your own child trying to make the team? Do you have a handicapped child that is trying to make it? Can a player accept their roll on the team? Can they accept the roll of others?
All of these and more factor into your final decision making process.
So the first day of practice rolls around and you have to start making judgment decisions. What can/should you do? First and foremost, show leadership and impartiality to all players. Treat everyone the same even though they aren’t. You can get closer to them later. Make sure that all players have equal access to it during this period. Always meet with the players together without the parents. You understand the parents feelings but, remember they don’t play for you. Always be honest with your players. Tell them what you are seeking for your team. Ask your players this question to consider. “Where do you fit in?” Leave it at that.
If you are required to meet with your parents before tryouts, be honest and tell them your expectations but, keep it very brief. Make no promises to anyone.
Announcing your team; This can be done several ways. If you cut one or two players, talk to them after your final practice. Never tell them that they aren’t any good. Just tell them that the others are better. If you have three or more to cut, post your team on a bulletin board. Do this where only those players that tried out can view it. Do not put it where everyone can view it. Never tell players in front of others that they didn’t make the team. Keep it and the way you handle it very professional. Remember you will be dealing with hurt feelings.
Selecting your team; A player should be able to use the skills necessary for his size and physical ability. Needless to say, these skills will have to be refined by you the coach. You need shooters, dribblers, passers, defenders, rebounder’s, and hustlers with positive attitudes.
I will leave you with two final thoughts to consider. First, the most important skill in the game of basketball is ball handling. No, I am not talking about dribbling. I am talking about catching passing and knowing what to do with it when you get the ball. The second thought is this, “a good shooter can make up for a multitude of mistakes.”
Good Luck with the selection of your teams.