How to Impress a Coach at Tryouts: Part 1 – Off-Ice Strategy

I know schedules are still upside down for many hockey communities due to covid-19. But some places are coming up on tryout season for next year. So for those of you who are gearing up for tryouts, this is for you.  I wrote this post a couple years ago but it’s timeless content!

If your area is still waiting on covid restrictions… I feel for you, and hope for a quick and safe return to hockey as soon as possible! (I recommend you save this one in your back pocket until tryout season rolls around for you)

I recently had the opportunity to serve as an evaluator in our State District Camp. There were four groups, and our job was to decide which players would move forward to the regional camp at each age group. As I watched the various sessions, it was interesting to see which players understood how to look good in a tryout, and which players didn’t.

You know how some people do well in school because they’re “good test takers?” Well, doing well in tryouts works the same way, to a certain extent. Yes, it’s important to have talent, but you need to “showcase” your talent in a way that will help the coach see your value to the team.

We’re going to address this topic in 3 parts:

  1. Off-Ice Strategy
  2. On-Ice Strategy
  3. On-Ice Performance

This article (part 1) will focus on your off-ice conduct, let’s dive in!

Who are You Trying to Impress?

Remember, in the game of tryouts, you’re trying to impress adults, not your peers. So act in ways that will speak to adults, even if it means you might not look as “cool” to your teammates. Old fashioned manners off the ice, combined with your work ethic on the ice, will go a long way. This content is also available in this soundbyte:

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Firm handshake, look the coach in the eye when you speak.
  • Be clean cut in your appearance.
  • No sagging pants, sloppy clothes, etc. 
  • Shave.
  • Get a haircut.
  • Ditch the chew. Seriously. If you choose to chew tobacco, that’s your call. But don’t flaunt it. I get it, it’s nobody’s business to judge you, but… that’s what a tryout is–a judgement on whether you’ll fit the team’s needs. Some coaches won’t care, but some might. Don’t give the coach any possible reason to think less of you.
  • Take out your earrings, young men.
  • Keep your language clean. Even if everyone around you doesn’t. Even if the coach doesn’t!
  • Look like a kid who will stay out of trouble, do well in school, etc.
  • Don’t give the coach any reason to wonder if you’re going to need “babysitting.”
  • Old fashioned manners. I.e. “Yes sir; no sir.”

Trust me – players who carry themselves in the ways mentioned above STAND OUT from the pack, which is what you want in a tryout. This will be especially true when you combine it with a solid on-ice performance, which we’ll hit in the next two segments of this series.

To summarize, you want the dialogue in the coach’s head to be something like this: “Wow – that insert your name here is quite the kid. He/she is not only a talented player, with a lot of heart and grit, but he/she really seems to have his/her act together off the ice as well. That’s the type of character we need more of.”

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