The two weeks leading up to tryouts are stressful.
Nerves start to take over as players try to guess which team they’ll make, parents get frustrated with the tryout process before it even starts and countless scenarios play out in the minds of both groups.
Sound familiar? The unfortunate thing about hockey tryouts in Canada is that they cause worry over matters where worry won’t help a lick.
In other words, tryouts force us to fret about that which we can’t control. It’s a futile use of energy, but being the passionate hockey fans we are, it’s not likely to go anywhere anytime soon.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease the stress of tryouts before they begin.
If a hockey player wants to make a certain team, then it’s up to that hockey player to do everything he can to help that situation come true. Summer sleep patterns inevitably fall out of wack, so re-introducing a proper sleep pattern 2 weeks before tryouts start will go a long way toward feeling awake and alert at 7pm when the puck drops on the first skate (instead of being ready for a late-afternoon nap).
All the skill training in the world won’t help if the body isn’t properly fuelled for tryouts. Unfortunately we can’t just flick a switch in our bodies like the T-1000 in Terminator 2 when we want to kick ourselves into high gear. Nutrition and hydration are a lifestyle choice, the benefits of which are magnified when those choices are made consistently.
Aiming to peak at the right time should be the goal of every professional off-season training instructor. Lifting a gigantic amount of weight early in the summer might be part of a detailed strength-building formula, but exhausting your body just as tryouts are set to begin should be more of an obvious DON’T than it is. Maintenance, rest and cardiovascular exercise are the 3 keys of dryland training 2 weeks before tryouts.
Hockey is a game of muscles memory and reflexes. An infinite number of scenarios can occur during a hockey game, so it stands to reason that the more a player can simulate these scenarios in practice, the more likely he’ll be able to perform when it counts. Start skating on a schedule that matches tryouts 2 weeks early so there are no surprises when the puck drops for real.
A big part of skating 2 weeks before tryouts is determining what style of game you’re going to focus on when the evaluators are watching. For example, if your weakness is your slap shot, then spend some time working on it in order to bring it up to a level consistent with the rest of your game. 2 weeks before tryouts is not the time to completely overhaul an existing skill.
The days leading up to tryouts are the time to exaggerate your strengths. Spend 75% of your time working on your strengths. Part of the reason for this is to have a weapon that stands out, although the best coaches notice the little things as well. Another reason to focus on your strengths is mental: feeling satisfied about your game leading up to tryouts is just a fancy way of saying confident. We all perform better when we’re confident.
The most important thing to remember 2 weeks before tryouts is tuning the body and mind to the frequency that allows for the greatest possible performance. Proper rest and nutrition in combination with on-ice skills that are clicking at maximum efficiency means you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to end up.
So, are you ready yet?
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