Tryout Gems

So, you are at a tryout. You're nervous. You're excited. You ask yourself, "What do I need to do to make this team?" The answer is a little less complex than you think.


Many players who are attending a big tryout make the same 2 common mistakes. Either one is pretty much a guarantee you will likely see the red tag on your locker. If at all possible, try to avoid one of these two types of players at a tryout:


1) The Season Ticket Holder: This player attends a tryout like a true fan, who is in awe of the competition there. They look at the rosters and say to themselves "Man, this guy is good. Wow this guy is also good. Yikes, they are all good!" If you are one of these guys, prepare to change your flight home early. Sure the players at this tryout are good. You're leaving out one key component...you are also good. If you weren't, you wouldn't have been invited or accepted.


Confidence plays a big role in your overall performance as a player. Players in awe of being there end up playing like it. They play safe, they give way to the players they feel should be performing. They are uninvolved and it shows. You are truly better off being a ticket holder to the event instead of competing for a spot. You can change that. Tell yourself you belong there and play like it. Do the things that got you there. Play the type of game you are known for. Be a player not a fan.


2) The PA Announcer: This type of player has likely been told or has convinced himself that he has to be the star of the show at all times. He has to "announce" to the scouts watching that he is there. These players try to do too much and step away from their game to do it. PA Announcers will over-handle pucks, make high risk decisions for low risk successes and generally "hot dog" it. Coaches don't want to see you continually fail at what you do out there. They are looking for players who are capable of succeeding in the situations they are presented with in a drill or scrimmage.


The best advice I ever received from coaches and scouts about how to approach tryouts was unilateral and consistent. They all said the same thing. Do what you do well and do it a lot to get noticed. If you are known for your playmaking ability, then make those plays. If you are a good defensive defenseman, stay within your boundaries and play sound defense. Most of all, do something to get noticed. This means, you will have to take a few risks to make memorable plays. It doesn't mean you do it every time.


When you are at a tryout, assume you are being watched all the time, every time. You are. Most tryouts are staffed with multiple scouts who all have things they like in a player. Chances of a scout seeing you do something they like is good and the best part is it is just a matter of you illustrating what you have learned as a player to that point. There are a few things that all recruiters look for in a player that you have 100% control over.


i) Communicate. All the time. Talkers get noticed. It shows you are in the game and aware of what's going on. It is also something a lot of players are missing in their game. It will get you noticed.


ii) Work Hard. All the time. Many players I talk to at tryouts say they are working hard. They aren't and it shows. Take every situation in front of you as the most important thing you can do. Don't get lulled to sleep by some of the slackers who think it's cool to be lazy at camp. Yup they exist. Even if it's a couple of hard laps between drills, do it to 100% capacity. All it takes is one guy to say "Geez that guy works hard" and BAM! You are on their radar.


iii) Have Body Language. All the time. OK, so you hit the post on a shot or missed altogether or a guy you passed to bobbled a pass you gave him. Why slam your stick or drop your shoulders or shake your head in disgust. The saw the same play. They know what happened. They don't need you putting on a bodily performance to show them. You just end up looking bad. Good body language is simple. Be in the moment and when that moment is gone, move on to the next. No need to dwell on it. It's over. If you can learn to think about the play in front of you the instant the last play is over, your mind won't allow your body to make you look like a complete tool. You'll be focused on the next thing.



Sure, there's way more to it than this. However, taking the above approach to tryouts will, at very least, eliminate many of the not so popular things that recruiters see. Your goal is to continually get noticed in a positive way.

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