It never fails. The summer sun starts warming us up in late June and we all hope we’ll never see a hockey rink ever again. And then the kids start getting a bit restless. Hopefully you’ve got them doing other things, other sports, other activities, but still, there’s an itch that needs scratching.
July rolls right along and you’ve got some semblance of routine, but when August hits? That means it’s time to start preparing for hockey season.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean getting on the ice immediately and skating for four weeks. Although the club has plenty of different camps to satisfy different types of training both on and off the ice, but that's not the point.
What this time of year does require, however, is clarification.
Every year at every organization there are kids who flip flop on which position they’re playing when they enter atom and the tryout experience. Atom hockey is the time to start focusing on one position primarily, but the truth is that different coaches will see different things.
I had a little guy in spring hockey this year that liked to play forward and defense, but probably saw himself as more of a forward. Most kids do. But his edge work, his ability to separate opponents from the puck, and simply his skating stance as he moved the puck and followed up the play screamed d-man to me. So we made the switch and now he’s happily entering tryouts as a defenseman. It’s not always that simple, so ask questions - both of people you trust, former coaches, and your child of course!
With atom tryouts approaching in a few weeks, it’s a good idea to alleviate some of the stress of this brand new experience by owning it. Tryouts can be a terrifying, stressful situation for some kids, while some might have zero idea what’s really happening. I don’t think either is a good situation.
Ask your child what he or she likes and dislikes about tryouts. Even if they’ve never done it before, it opens up dialogue and you can help demystify the process.
Then, make sure your child has an approach. Are they going to work as hard as possible and see what happens? Are they going to soak it all in and learn as much as they can? Are they going to put everything on the line to try to make the team and to hell with the potential letdown if they’re released?
Whatever your approach, define it. Own it.
This one is for parents. Your stress will be as plain as green face-paint during your child’s first experience in minor hockey tryouts. And guess what - you control even less of the situation than they do!
So take a moment in the next week or so to recognize the upcoming event, and then put it out of your mind and worry about what you can control. If your kids sense that atom tryouts mean more to you then it does to them, then that’s extra pressure heaped on that’s really not going to help. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ve seen it happen every single year. Players who should be performing better are stealing glances from dad and mom in the crowd. That nervous shuffle back and forth when you’re standing on the bleachers? We all know that shuffle.
Look, there’s a month left in the summer. Do what you need to do in the next couple weeks to get ready, but remember that these are young boys and girls who should be enjoying the summer to its fullest instead of worrying about tryouts.