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Thoughts From Team USA Tryouts

by Ben Van Heuvelen

My thoughts on this topic are at the front of my mind today! 

Advice to tryouts: 

1. Distinguish yourself on defense, even if you consider yourself an offensive player. Even if you don't know the offensive system of the new team, you can always make an impression on D. In particular, focus on marks and shut-down defense. 

Be the defender who uses intelligence, positioning, and quickness to prevent his guy from getting open for uncontested passes. Be the defender who visibly hassles/ flusters the thrower with unpredictable movement and energy on the mark. Do not go for poach Ds; do not go for handblocks at the expense of letting off breakmark throws; do not bait layout Ds. Handblocks and layout Ds are flashy, but good captains/coaches will appreciate the flawless fundamentals that make for excellent team defense. (Also, flawless fundamental defense should create plenty of opportunities for flashy big plays.) 

2. Get in shape early. Returning players who feel more assured of their roster spots might not be in great shape yet. You can get an extra few blocks per game, catch an extra few goals per scrimmage, if you're in mid-season shape when everyone else is in early-season shape. 

3. Ask the captains/coaches what they're looking for. Good leaders will articulate, or will be able to articulate, the general qualities they're looking for in players. After a day or so of tryouts, they'll also be able to tell you the type of specific role they envision for you, and what they need to see from you in order to give you a spot on the team. 

4. Play your game and show your skills, but within the structure and the expectations that the team captains set. One way to achieve this balance is to focus on being a player who makes everyone else better. Make throwers look good by catching their swill. Make cutters look good by placing perfect passes to space in front of them (and holstering throws that will not result in perfect passes). Make teammates look good by clearing space. In the course of doing all of these things, you will probably be doing flashy things -- making plays as a receiver, breaking the mark, making long throws. The trick is to keep your focus on doing what makes the team look good, rather than what makes you look good. (Ultimately, they are one and the same.) 

5. Cheer your fellow tryouts as if they're your teammates. One mental pitfall of tryouts is that you focus relentlessly on yourself. You are constantly evaluating how well you're doing. This is dangerous psychological territory. (As Joe Montana said, "As soon as you know you're in The Zone, you're not in The Zone.") Take your focus off yourself -- get out of your own head -- by encouraging your fellow tryouts. Talk to them when they're marking, congratulate them when they do good things, etc. (And, as a side-note, do not try to coach or instruct them.) Not only will you have an easier time getting out of your own head and play better, but you'll show the team leaders that you're a good teammate. 

huddle Issue 2 Trying Out

Tuesday, May 28th, 2008

Thoughts From Chris Ashbrook
by Chris Ashbrook

Answers To All Of These Questions
by Tully Beatty

Play To Your Best, Tone Down The Rest
by Lou Burruss

Things To Focus On At Any Level
by Jeff Graham

Go After Similar, More Experienced Players
by Greg Husak

Focus On What You Can Control
by Ryan Morgan

Hard Work Stands Out
by Miranda Roth

Strong Fundamentals Trump Team Needs
by Nancy Sun

Athleticism First, Attitude Close Behind
by Chris Talarico

Thoughts From Team USA Tryouts
by Ben van Heuvelen

Perspective From The Team & From A Player
by Ben Wiggins




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