Competition During Tryouts: Why You Need to Bring the Best Out of Every Player

Competition Kelvin Cech Ice Hockey Coach Tips and Drills

Kelvin Cech

Steady contributor in multiple roles over the years at the coaches site, former MJHL coach of the year with the Winkler Flyers and assistant coach with the UBC Thunderbirds Men's Hockey team.

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I can’t decide which socks to wear. 

I don’t have any that match the North West Giants’ specific shade of maroon, so on the eve of my fourth training camp with the team, I’m left to decide based solely on gut feeling. 

Which socks will guarantee a successful season? If I wear the argyll print knee-highs I’ve been packing around since coaching peewee hockey in Edmonton, will the wins follow?

Coaches do strange things if they have any inclination whatsoever that it will help them win during the regular season, but when it comes to tryouts, coaches and evaluators are normally hands-off. There’s little communication to the players and parents because they’re expected to sort out the process on their own. Is this because we’re afraid parents will accuse us of favouritism if one player understands how things work better than another? Or are we just hoping the players will figure it out without guidance? Or maybe we’re just not in coaching mode yet. We’d rather sit back and watch hockey than take an active role in improving the on-ice product. 

No matter what the reason for this lack of communication, I think we can agree times have changed. Communication is good. Communication helps. 

Let’s start coaching at the beginning of the tryout process this season. It will make your decisions more difficult because more players will play better. This is a good problem to have. 

There are, however, distinctions to be made at different points in the process.

1. Initial Scrimmages

Most tryouts begin with either skills sessions or scrimmages. There will be plenty of athletes you’ve never seen before, and on the other side, there are plenty of players who have never played for you and are unclear about what you want.

So tell them. A fast pace, hard work, creativity – whatever you like, talk about it. Gather each team before they skate and introduce yourself and your expectations. Not only will you see more of what you’re looking for, the players will be more at ease to relax and play with confidence. 

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