Tryout Readiness: Mental Preparation


Basketball tryouts are one week closer and mental and physical preparation is increasingly important! Last week, we reviewed physical preparation with Coach Steve Cramblitt. This week, Coach Cramblitt will discuss nine steps to mentally prepare yourself for tryouts and the basketball season.


Mental Preparation Tips

  1. Talk to your coach

Have a discussion with your head coach about your abilities and what he wants from a player during tryouts and the basketball season. If you’d like a template to structure this conversation around, USA Basketball has created a toughness inventory you and your coach can review. This will give you an idea of what mental qualities your coach wants in players and what areas you can improve.

USA Basketball Toughness Inventory:


  1. Think Team First

Mentally prepare to the fulfill the needs of the coach and team. Coaches want players who think team first and play within the structure of the team. Learn to build the confidence of your teammates by encouraging and praising them. Acknowledge the good passes and plays made by teammates with words of encouragement. This encouragement and enthusiasm will build team energy and synergy, setting you and your team up for success.


  1. Become Your Best Critic

Your skill development requires you to be your best critic. Recognize your weaknesses and strengths while finding someone you trust and respect to critique your game. Once you recognize your strengths and weaknesses, work on them!


  1. Be Positive

Stay positive with yourself as you move through the process of continuing to improve both your physical and mental game. It will be frustrating at times but ultimately rewarding.


  1. Develop Goals

Develop personal and team goals that allow you to stay focused on making the team and create a good team atmosphere all season. 

For example: 

1. Always practice at game speed

2. Improve weaknesses and stay confident in strengths

3. Have a strong work ethic on offense and defense

4. Make your teammates better through your game via good ball handling, excellent passing and an overall knowledge of the game

5. Improve your knowledge of what your coaches expect of you and improve those skills

6. Be an outstanding individual on and off the court, while treating all people with respect


  1. Build Work Ethic

Expect and be committed to having an excellent work ethic. Give 100% every time you step on the court and expect your teammates and coaches to do the same. 


  1. Create a Daily Routine

Develop a daily routine in preparing yourself for a workout, practice or game. It prepares your mind and body for the day’s activities and helps you build confidence both on and off the court.

Watch this video from USA Basketball on how to effectively develop a mental toughness routine


  1. Reflect on Workouts

After workouts, practices and games spend a few minutes reviewing the highs and lows so you can an improve efforts the next day. When reflecting, write down two things you did well and at least three things you can improve. Over the season try to compare previous post-game and post-practice notes to see where you continue to struggle and where you have improved. These comparisons will help you focus on improving areas of weakness throughout the season. During these reflection, be positive about your accomplishments and realistic about your struggles.


  1. Visualize

Use visualization by sitting in a quiet place closing your eyes and see yourself properly performing the skills necessary to be a better player. This prepares you for the next workout, tryout, practice and game.


Tryouts are just around the corner! Start putting these tips to use today to have a top tryout performance and basketball season.