The Myths of Tryouts!


So I am still spending a lot of time on the hockey thing, and why not a slightly themed week.  After last post I thought I could tackle some of the myths you are dealing with leading into tryout time.  You know the crap that Dad thinks is important to little Jonny right before little Jonny hits the ice!

CAVEAT – I am a designate coach in the elite stream.  Teams are picked passed on coach selection, not a bunch of unqualified parents and evaluation rankings they make up while they log their required volunteer hours.  This is only from the perspective I have.  But who are we kidding, if you are a Dad reading this your seven year old is signing his PTO next week.  Right?  So this is the view you want.

FINISH WITH YOUR BEST – This is like saving your best for last.  Or as I might see it, as the coach evaluating your kid, not trying hard to the very end.  Now I am a professional and I stay and watch the entire ice session.  Well I stay till the end, sometimes I have to interact with other coaches, administrators or eat my dinner and miss a minute or two at the beginning of the ice time.  That being said, the guy who saved his energy for an anchor kick, I probably didn’t see him.  I have provisional ranks pretty early on in the ice time.  That allows me to group kids into smaller groups and see how they move up or down in that small group of 3 or so.  So if there are 12 skaters on the ice and little Jonny saved his kick for the end, he very likely started closer to the bottom than the top.  So he probably won’t work his way out.  Even if he is close to the top he may be in third or fourth, if he is saving up for the last 5 minutes, I probably am not watching that intently.  Sorry it was about being a consistent performer for me.  Every time you tell little Jonny “make your last shift your best.”  You are really saying “Take it easy till you see there is only five minutes left on the clock.”

TEAMS ARE PRESELECTED – This is usually the call for a Dad who is pissed his kid didn’t make a team.  But here is the thing they aren’t pre selected.  There are always surprises to make teams.  Don’t mistake this for knowledge of players though, I will address that next.  Most importantly though, as a coach, why the hell would I waste 25 hours in the next week sitting in a rink watching this crap.  While there are a some good players, there are also some not so good players, and it isn’t great hockey.  I could think of better things to do than pretend to evaluate.  We are actually there watching and formulating rankings, not just going through the motions.  If your kid gets cut don’t blame pre selected teams, blame the fact your kid didn’t perform well.  Or if you have to blame coaches to make Jonny feel better, blame them for having missed Jonny’s obvious talent.

COACHES SHOULDN’T HAVE BIAS ABOUT PLAYERS – This isn’t even reasonable.  Especially at  the elite level, the higher you go the more the coach needs to need what is coming up.  They also know about returning players.  At the end of the season I file a report on returning players for the team above us.  Now they have some info.  I know there are a huge bunch of whining parents, who feel this isn’t fair.  But we do take the time to watch every kid, and if your kid can out play the kid we know about that is great, but we have to start somewhere.  It is why some jobs like to see you have a degree first.  Same thing is happening at tryouts, we are viewing resumes.  This is a big reason your kid shouldn’t be a little asshole to the current coach, you will never know how that affects their future tryouts.  If you don’t think your little kids attitude follows him ask the biggest jerk in hockey, Josh Ho-Sang.

ONLY ON ICE PERFORMANCE MATTERS – Following up on the previous matter, and the Josh Ho-Sang crap is this one.  I don’t just care about your kids ability to put the puck in the net or close his gap.  Far from it in fact.  One year I drafted a team loaded with talent, and I drafted one talented kid who was a total prick.  It hurt our team all year.  A couple years back our area was a little weaker in talent.  We drafted a team full of good character kids, we grabbed some leaders and one amazing goalie who was also an incredible person.  We had a ton of fun and the group was easy to work with.  I value your kids attitude, in fact leadership can move them up a spot or two on my draft list.  So not a huge change.  But being a giant ASS can move your kid out of my list entirely.  We have a kid or two every year we just cross off because they are bullies and jerks.  Not interested in fixing your kids behavioural problems, that is why he has parents.  The fact you suck at your job is your problem.

SHOULDN’T PAY FOR THE SINS OF YOUR FATHER – This is an extreme one.  While I don’t really worry too much about parents, it does give me an insight into a kid if I am unsure of the kids attitude.  I will generally ignore a slightly annoying parent, I can always tell that parent to stop talking to me and find a new way to ask me questions.  But if you are a crazy Dad, always in places you shouldn’t be, over involved, too wired and generally a person I get to know at tryouts, I am dropping your kid very far down my list.  I don’t want the headache of an annoying Dad.  If you think I am just an overreactive coach, get a scout drunk and ask them how they feel about helicopter parents at major junior.

THERE ARE TOO MANY POLITICS IN ELITE STREAM HOCKEY – This is the favourite claim of the parent who just can’t handle the potential their child may get cut.  Getting cut is part of life, no big deal.  But if you feel this way go back to community hockey (house league).  Here is the thing, the coaches in house league aren’t parents, we aren’t connected to parents or players.  Most elite stream coaches are trying to advance their coaching careers as well.  These two things mean we don’t care who you are, we aren’t for sale and we don’t engage in a lot of politics.  But back at community hockey where everything is run by parents and coaches are parents there is a lot of bullshit in team selection.  Crazy how little Jonny’s Dad did evals and little Jonny’s best friend Jimbo is on the same team every year, even though Jimbo can’t skate.  Crazy who Jonny kind of sucks at hockey but his Dad is the coach of team 1 every year and so Jonny is there too.   Here is the thing for me, if I want to move up to another level, I need to develop players who move up ahead of me.  This has to happen over and over, year after year or I get asked to not return to the association.  For me the best way to move up is to select the best players, it is easy to develop players who start closer to the top, much tougher to develop players who aren’t very good.  So there is no benefit in taking your kid if he can’t skate, it just holds me up.  I want to see my players develop and play at the highest level.

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