// you’re reading...

Coaching Tips

The Inherent Problem of Tryouts

Yesterday I read a very interesting article on how little tryouts really tell us.

The author, Jonah Lehrer, used the NFL combine as an example. The combine, for those who don’t know, is an audition in which players run and perform other physical skills while being evaluated by all of the NFL teams.

Here are two problems.

First, the combine is a very short event where the players must perform in bursts, like the 40-yard dash. Teams can’t measure long-term physical activity, the kind that takes place over the course of a season or a career.

Second, the combine takes place under conditions of high motivation. The player wants to impress, and knows that there is just a small window of time. Teams can judge what the player does in that small window, but not what they will do once the combine is over.

So in sum, the combine can measure some things, but not the things that are really important, like commitment and sustained effort.

No wonder there’s not much connection between success in the combine and success in actual games!

Every tryout or interview has biases. Last night a coaching colleague told me about the best player on his team, and how little he thought of her during tryouts. “She was quiet,” he said, explaining why he wasn’t impressed. He explained his reasoning: He likes players who are strong communicators.

So he did not pick her during tryouts, and she landed on his team only because another girl dropped out. He would have been so wrong!

Seeing through the biases, and selecting the correct ways of looking at a candidate are crucial. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to look for?

*** *** *** *** ***

Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” go here.


No comments for “The Inherent Problem of Tryouts”

Post a comment