Let’s talk about what tryouts should be instead of what they shouldn’t be. The negatives are well-documented, after all. This season, let’s encourage our players to enter tryouts with a positive attitude about the opportunity they have to impress coaches and evaluators.
Tryouts are a test. Just like an english exam, hockey tryouts are the final step in a long summer of training and preparation.
Or, for younger players, tryouts are an early lesson to be learned about the value of trying your best and performing to the best of your abilities when the time is right.
Hockey players can only control themselves, so taking care of business the day before the first tryout skate will go a long way toward bringing out your best.
Here are seven things hockey players can do to give them the best chance of performing during tryouts.
Taking a twirl, handling the puck and getting some shots in within 24 hours of the first tryout skate helps players feel comfortable once they step on the ice the next day. Timing is enhanced during the skate by getting familiar with the weight of the puck and the sharpness of the blades.
Down something familiar the day before the first skate. This meal will mend any muscles and keep energy supplied throughout the next day and evening. This is a bad time to try a new spicy chicken gumbo recipe. Hockey players are often plagued by heartburn as it is - foreign food added to the nerves tryouts will inevitably bring will damage focus. Choose something bland and packed with carbs and protein, like chicken and pasta with tomato sauce and a salad.
Easier said than done, of course. That’s why it’s important to be active the day before the first tryout skate. Getting that skate in will tucker hockey players out so they can sleep soundly and naturally.
The time has come, but it’s important to treat it like a normal day. Get up at a decent hour, do something physical outside and eat well throughout the day. Completely altering your routine tells your brain something is different, something is unfamiliar. This creates angst that will build up until the puck is dropped. A drop in performance is sure to follow.
The skate begins and the preparation is over. At this point it’s crucial for players to do the things that makes them a good player. Defensive defensemen need to play defense, goalies need to stop the puck, goal-scoring forwards need to score, physical players need to take the body. Do what you’re good at.
Here’s a secret that shouldn’t be a secret: coaches evaluating their potential teams are looking for work ethic as much as they’re looking for results. Why? Because every coach believes they can mould players who work hard. They can be taught to check or taught to defend as long as they’re willing to put in the effort.
Sure, it’s time to put your skills to the test, but for growing hockey players, it’s always time to push for the next level. This means trying to be better every shift, every period, every game or every shot. Focusing on improvement also helps players forget they’re being watched closely, which helps them play better.
So instead of stress this fall, choose excitement. Instead of slim chance, choose opportunity.
If you can focus on what tryouts are instead of what they aren’t, chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you are, rather than what you aren’t.
… See what I did there?