Here’s a firm rule every single hockey parent in Canada needs to understand right now:
Once your child hits the ice in tryouts, there is absolutely nothing you can do to affect the team he or her makes.
Before and after their skate, however?
Sure. Just remember that your son or daughter can only worry about what they can control. In order to be clear on that, let’s quickly look at what they can’t control:
The coach’s opinion*
What the coach is looking for
Other players trying out for the same team
*Players can sway a coach’s opinion through their play, but talking to a coach before tryouts, attending camps with that coach or doing lessons with that coach means nothing when it comes time for a coach to choose a team (other than the skills taught during those sessions). At least it should mean nothing.
Now that the negativity is out of the way, what can you control? Here are 5 do’s & don’t’s of navigating tryouts as a hockey parent.
Do: take over meals completely while your son or daughter is in tryouts
Don’t: let your teenager try to feed himself during tryouts
Do: feed your child meals with complex carbohydrates such as chicken and pasta (no cream sauce) 3 hours or so before a game
Don’t: pump your child full of Red Bull or other energy drinks before games and tell them it will help their performance
Do: feed your child protein after a skate (greek yogurt, mixed nuts, berries)
Don’t: feed your child sugary cereal or toast before they go to bed
Do: ask your child if going to bed earlier will help them during tryouts
Don’t: let them off the hook once tryouts are over
Do: pre-game nap a few hours before game-time
Don’t: pre-game nap longer than 45 minutes (longer than 45 minutes makes hockey players groggy, and probably isn’t necessary anyway if the player got sufficient sleep the night before)
Do: ask what they did well after a skate
Don’t: ask about other players
Do: ask what they think they need to improve for next session
Don’t: ask what they think the coach thinks (this creates unnecessary stress - again, the player can only try to make an impression on the coach through their own play)
Do: build up your child through constant positive energy in the car on the ride home
Don’t: let your own problems with their performance pop up around the dinner table
Do: take injuries seriously (if a player is injured and the injury will affect his or her play, the coach wants to know immediately)
Don’t: wait until the injury has an obvious effect on the player’s performance to communicate with the coach
Do: tell the player to talk to the coach or an evaluator as soon as the injury is ‘diagnosed’
Don’t: talk to the coach yourself (most clubs have a proper procedure in the event of injury, follow this procedure, but make sure you receive confirmation that the coach is aware of the injury)
Regardless of what you might have been told, coaches are selfish: they want to win.
How do they win?
They choose the best players available to them to create their vision of their team.
There’s no denying that mistakes are made every year, but those mistakes don’t mean a player is suddenly a different person the day after he or she gets released. During tryouts, you and your child can only worry about what you can control (I know I already said that - that's how important this rule is).
More often than not, the system will work and you’ll end up in exactly the right spot.
So keep your house positive for the next few weeks. Focus on the process instead of the results, and your son or daughter will have a better chance of performing to the absolute best of their abilities.
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