House evaluations and travel team tryouts are on tap at rinks across Central New York. After you've done the equipment check and you've got all the right sized pads, here's a mental checklist for your kids before they hit the ice!
by Frank Colabufo,
West Genesee Wildcats Head Hockey Coach
HOW TO MAKE A TEAM
Player selection, or "tryouts" is a necessary experience that can certainly be stressful for players, parents and coaches alike. I have been part of the player evaluation and selection process for the past 22 seasons and it never gets any easier. Here are some thoughts for players and parents to consider when preparing for tryouts.
LEAVE NO DOUBT
As a player, you need to have the mindset that it is your job to make the team, not the coach's job to pick you. You need to separate yourself from the rest of the group. If you don't, you risk being "on the bubble" and it may end up bursting at the end of the tryout. Here are a few ways to give yourself the best shot at making a team.
Play fast! Keep your feet moving and play with energy. Be strong in traffic and along the wall.
WIN THE LITTLE BATTLES
Win every 1 vs 1 battle all over the ice. Have a constant work ethic in every drill and on every shift. Get loose pucks first and play with an edge. Be hard to play against. Take it personally and never give up.
PLAY OFF THE PUCKResearch shows the best players in the world only possess the puck for about one minute in a 60 minute game. What are you doing when you don't have the puck? Support the play on offense and defense. Stay engaged and make a difference, especially when you don't have the puck.
Be a positive team player. Make your teammates better. Be willing to accept a role. The third line center that won't be happy unless he is on the first power play unit, probably gets cut. Carry your own bag and sticks even if your mom offers to carry them for you. Say "please" and "thank you" when you get a drink from the snack bar after practice. Do the right thing, even when you think nobody is looking. We have won championships with teams that were less talented, but we've never won a championship with teams that lacked character.
KEEPING YOUR EDGEIf you do make the team, congratulations! But, your work is just beginning. You now have the responsibility to get better every single practice. Do not take your selection for granted, because chances are, the players who were cut are making plans to get better. If you're not picked for the team, try to understand that players develop at different rates and times. As long as you are still being challenged, you will continue to improve. Keep playing and keep having fun! Hockey is a great game.