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The Art of the Grab

Players of all ages want to get noticed. They are hoping that one scout or recruiter is in the stands checking the right boxes on them with the hopes of getting recruited. Getting noticed is a two-way street. If you are to make and impression on a scout, you want it to be a positive one.

Aside from actually showcasing your skills and Hockey IQ, another way to get noticed is simply by learning how to shake hands. Yup. That's right...shaking hands. There's the right way and there's many wrong ways and the wrong ones will leave an ever-lasting impression on a scout, or, at very least, have him/her questioning whether or not they want to take the next step with you. I'll explain.

I currently coach a 16U AAA team. After each game, teams line up and shake hands. I watch each and every player as they go through the line. I pay attention to each one of them. Some of them exude such a negative from that experience, I make note of it. Every once and awhile, I get a call from a higher level team asking me about a player. When asked, I refer to my notes. Some players have some negative notes behind them. Players who lack the respect in a handshake line are such ones that stand out. I will quickly point out to a recruiter that a player who catches my eye for a negative handshake might "need a closer look" or "a check into his character."

Before I go into too much detail about the negative handshakes, I'll give you the best way to shake an opponents hand...or a coach or scout or anyone in life for that matter. It's simple.

1) Extend your hand.

2) Look the person in the eye.

3) Have a firm grip.

4) Shake.

That's it. Do that and you are golden. If you want to offer a "good game" or "good luck," go for it. It shows class and character. Most coaches I speak to take note of these things and share their experiences. Now for my collection of "bad" handshakes. These are sure to have a scout or coach questioning your character.

1. THE ROBOT: The Robot is a player who glides through the line with his glove still on and taps the other players as he goes through the line. What might seem appropriate in PeeWee is sure to get you blasted in Bantams and up. Take a second, remove you glove and see above.

2. THE DEAD FISH: This bender goes through the line and extends his hand with no grip

whatsoever. He simply expects you to grip his hand and move on. No one wants to hold a day old Carp. Why makes this your calling card? Soft grip equals soft play. Shape up!

3. THE JOHN STOCKTON (a.k.a. THE JASON KIDD): Kidd and Stockton were two of the greatest passers in the NBA. They were better at one type of pass than anyone else...the "lookaway." While that may be slick in hoops, it is not cool when shaking hands. I've heard several of my elders say "Never trust a man who doesn't look you in the eye when he shakes your hand." I've found that general statement to hold true, when meeting folks. Don't be that guy. Unless you are looking for a prospective team to question your ethics.

4. THE TOUGH GUY: We all know this jerk. He goes through the line and tries to break your hand when he squeezes it. It is also usually accompanied by a nasty look or mumble. The tough guy has issues. Usually with his character and lack of game...well...toughness. The donkey who grips like this is usually the type of player to avoid. He has little sense of judgement or class.

These are the 4 main ones, but there are variations of each. In addition, some players may combine two or more of these to really drop their stock.

Coaches should be assessed on this skill as well. Look, we all coach. We all hope or want to succeed, dare I say win. We are upset when we don't. It's how coaches handle these moments that define them. It also gives you a look into how they may coach a player. What do you think the odds are of a Donkey of a coach having all of his players act with class and professionalism? Slim to none and Slim lives in Texas.

While a player's skill and IQ are two main attributes that may get them noticed, this is one small way to additionally add to your "story" as a player. Shake wisely.

For more on the subject, check this out:

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