With tryouts approaching for many, it’s easy for players – and parents – to stress.
Some players can find themselves overwhelmed with thoughts, anxieties and emotions, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Here are some tips to improve your tryout experience from longtime Lake of the Woods hockey coach Don Krause, who’s played a key role in implementing the Coaching Education Program in northern Minnesota and is the head coach for the CCM High Performance Boys 15 Summer Development Camp.
1. Make sure your skating is at your best
While stickhandling and shooting are important to work on, skating is a skill that can put players over the top.
“It’s important to make your skating the best it can possibly be,” Krause said. “You can separate yourself with strong skating.”
When it comes to developing various skills, time on the ice is important. But there are other ways you can improve your on-ice ability.
“Pull up some YouTube videos so you can understand the game more. See how these players create time and space for themselves and their teammates. There are plenty of videos out there that are accessible to everyone and that can help you improve your game.”
2. The little things make a big impact
Krause is certainly not the first coach to point out the importance of the little things. But it’s a good reminder for those stepping out onto the ice.
“First of all, don’t be late,” Krause said. “Be sure you’re prepared, listening to the coaches and being attentive. I love it when I look out at the group and see all the players’ eyes.”
Along with strong listening and being prepared, Krause also says there are other little things that can make an impact, such as shooting after a drill and not doing what the coaches ask.
“Little things can really get under the skin of the coaches and evaluators,” Krause said.
3. Show leadership
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. While tryouts might not be a game situation, showing leadership during tryouts can go a long way.
“You can show you’re a leader in many ways,” Krause said. “Some are rah-rah and call for the puck. Others are going to lead quietly but show their leadership through powerful examples. Others might show themselves through hard work in the corners.”
4. Body language matters
With tryouts being a stressful time, it’s easy for players to show their emotions, both good and bad. While a player thinks a slam of the stick is just a sign of anger, some coaches see it as bad body language.
“Body language definitely plays a factor during tryouts,” Krause said. “When we see players get angry and let it affect their play, it affects the way I believe in them. I want players that are going to roll it off and not blame their teammates for things going wrong.”
5. Use tryouts as a chance for players to improve
While tryouts might be seen solely as the way teams are chosen for the upcoming season, Krause believes tryouts are another good opportunity for development.
“For my evaluators, I want them to run a tryout that also improves players during the tryout process, whether it’s through mental preparation or just making them better hockey players,” Krause said.
Players should approach it the same way. Rather than worrying the results of tryouts, focus on the process of improving every day. Not only will that help reduce nerves, but coaches and evaluators also notice players who are on an upward trajectory and those who show they care about getting better.
6. Tryouts aren’t the end all be all
When the tryout process comes to an end and the teams are named, it’s easy for all involved to rush to conclusions. But in the end, tryouts are just one part of being a hockey player.
“It’s not the end all be all,” Krause said. “We need to keep things in perspective and let things roll where they may. Tryouts can give you things to work out and will ultimately help you in the future.”
No matter what team you make, it’s time to embrace that opportunity, play hard, have fun, and make lifelong memories with your teammates!